Seven years ago, I invited Michael Rosenthal, whom I’d never met, to join me in a very dodgy enterprise: the creation of a new independent weekly newspaper in Santa Monica. To our mutual surprise, he agreed, and we were off and running. The first issue of the Santa Monica Mirror hit the streets on June 23, 1999. Since then, every week for nearly seven years, with the help of some extraordinary people, we made another issue – 351 in all. The first editorial in the first issue of the Mirror said, in part: “In its 124th year, [Santa Monica] is still in a state of becoming, trying to figure out what it is, what it’s about…what it should be. None of the other cities in the Los Angeles constellation is afflicted with this sort of perpetual identity crisis. Even the make-believe cities within the real city of Los Angeles, such as Long Beach, have a clearer sense of themselves than Santa Monica has of itself.“Santa Monica’s a beach town, but not as downright a beach town as Malibu or Hermosa Beach. It’s a busy tourist center, but it’s wound too tight to be a real resort. Two-thirds of all working residents commute to jobs in other places, but Santa Monica is lodged too firmly in L.A.’s grip to qualify as a suburb. The recent rush of film, television and music companies to Santa Monica has inspired some people to dub Santa Monica “Hollywood West,” but that’s more wishful spin than fact.“This civic confusion is not exclusive to residents. In 1981, after Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights swept into City Hall, the Village Voice labeled Santa Monica ‘the most radical city in America.’ More recently, the New York Times made note of its ‘stylish sands,’ while the L.A. Times named it ‘the capital of cool.’ About the same time, the National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty claimed it was ‘the meanest city in America.’ There’s some truth in all those judgments, but each tells us more about the beholder than the beheld.“…the Mirror’s primary reason for being is to find out what’s going on here and to report it accurately, to explore this mysterious turf and, in time, map it and, in that way, finally, to name it.“But what is the Mirror? What does it want to be? What should it be? It’s a weekly newspaper that aspires to be the newspaper of record, fully and faithfully recording everything—good and bad, high and low—in all its shapes, colors and variety, on what Hamlin Garland called ‘this fortunate coast.’“News comes in all sorts of guises and the Mirror will employ them all—investigative reports, bulletins, photos, features, interviews, cartoons, humor, opinion pieces, the works. And it comes in a grand crescendo, a hubbub of voices—from the talkative Council member to the angry motorist to the produce man, because the Mirror, like any good newspaper, is a forum in which everyone has a voice.“In sum, the Mirror intends to be, as our publisher said one day, ‘an outrageously great newspaper,’ meaning an original, not a copy, meaning revelatory, meaning indispensable, meaning, above all, yours as well as ours.”How’d we do? Pretty well, I think. We were never “outrageously great,” but we hit some of the other marks. Sometimes. This issue – volume V11, issue 39 – is my last. Just as Michael’s and my paths converged in 1999, they have now diverged and we are going in different directions. With the next issue, he will become Editor as well as Publisher. It has been a great run, and I will be forever beholden to the people who worked with me, and the countless readers who took part in the extended community forum that the Mirror became. To them, as well as to the people who disagreed with my editorials, good night and good luck. Peggy CliffordEditor, June 23, 1999 – March 8, 2006
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