By Mark F. Weinberg
To be forthright, I am a newspaper junkie.
At the age of nine, I began delivering them. By the time I was eleven I was hooked on reading them. At sixteen I wallpapered my entire bedroom with months of Los Angeles Herald Examiner headlines and had my first brush with neighborhood celebrity when the paper published a photo of it. One of my parting regrets from this news-filled planet will surely be that I never won a Pulitzer Prize or served, even briefly, as a grisly, cigar stub-chewing beat reporter.
And though I love all newspapers, I have special reverence and affection for local newspapers and their grassroots coverage. Warren E. Buffett got it right when he said last year, “There is no substitute for a local newspaper that is doing its job”.
Congratulations to Willie Brown, publisher of Inglewood Today, which after 20 years just keeps getting better at “doing its job”.
Inglewood Today has for more than a generation helped weave the fabric of our community by reporting on City Council and School Board meetings, developments in business and other topics of local interest. The paper has not merely advocated ethnic and cultural diversity, but has introduced us to residents and other personalities who contribute to the richness of our culture.
Inglewood Today has dutifully reported on high school sports, shared letters from readers, opined on the pertinent issues of the day, and informed us of births, weddings and passings. In reporting these events Willie Brown has informed us, piqued our curiosity, prompted us to contemplate our community and the world beyond, and stirred many of us to action. His weekly reports have elicited a full range of emotions from laughter and appreciation, to anger and resolve. From celebration to mournful reflection.
Inglewood Today has done far more than report the local news. Under Brown’s guidance the publication has enriched the community by forming the Inglewood Business Opportunity Network (IBON) and hosting numerous events such as jazz concerts, the State of City Address, MLK Day, Drum Major for Justice, and the Los Angles Black Business Expo. Brown has given generously of his time by serving on a number of community and civic boards and committees. He understands that for a local paper to be relevant it cannot skim the surface of the waters, but must immerse itself in its torrent.
The knock on Willie Brown is that he is not so much a player as a perennial cheerleader. An unabashed optimist who makes no effort to hide his civic pride or his love for Inglewood. He is proof that journalists can root out and write about stories that fill the collective spirit with hope. It is pretty easy to pan for, or fabricate, material that casts organizations, community leaders and their neighbors in a disparaging light. To distort or even disregard the facts for the sake of reinforcing negative stereotypes. From the outset Willie Brown wanted Inglewood Today to be a source of inspiration, not blame and he makes no apologies for putting a “positive slant” on his reporting. Nor should he. It seems like the more he writes about Inglewood people, their actions and the City’s potential to grow and prosper, the more he seems like a prophetic sage. Thank you Willie Brown and here is to the next twenty years!