Lakewood Observer Turns Thirteen
The Lakewood Observer project-- the printed newspaper and the 24 hours message board known as The Observation Deck, have been in existence for 13 years as of this July. Happy Anniversary to us. When I say "us," I mean all of us. I'm referring to myself as an editor and writer on this paper, other editors, our publishers, sales staff, delivery people, and advertisers, but most importantly, I'm talking about you, our readers, writers, and writers of the future.
If you haven't heard, the Lakewood Observer is a community written paper. Every story you read was written by a member of the Lakewood community who wanted to share something with you. This person sat down at laptop, or picked up a notebook and a pen, and wrote down something they wanted the rest of Lakewood to know about. The idea to take away here, is that they are not paid professional writers, they aren't usually professional writers, and many wouldn't characterize themselves as writers at all. They are neighbors and friends, business owners, or representatives of community institutions like the schools, city hall, the Beck Center, Lakewood Public library, etc. This week's forum section features Dr. Chuck -- known to many here in Lakewood as the longtime teacher of APUSH-- Advanced Placement U.S. History at Lakewood High School examining the rise of charter schools, a ride-along with Lakewood Police, and reviews of local music releases by a columnist who created his column based on the fact that he loves locally produced music and there was nowhere to read about it.
If you've been reading this paper for a while, you know that our readers and writers are not afraid to take on controversial and contentious issues like the decanting and closing of Lakewood Hospital or the constitutionality of the many executive sessions in which both our city council and school board make their decisions. The project was born because of a need for Lakewoodites to share their opinions with each other during difficult times, when getting an honest look at what's happening is crucial and can be difficult to come by. From the beginning the paper has existed as an online website and a free printed newspaper, available throughout the city, which makes it possible for everyone to participate, including those with no internet access.
Some of our writers have spent hours investigating issues in order that our city might have a chance to understand what is happening around them. Their motivation? They want to inform, protect and improve the city in which they, their children and their neighbors live. Not so easy to be a community journalist sometimes, especially when "killing the messenger" or at least harassing the messenger is literally true in the world we live in. The paper has weathered frivolous lawsuits, bans by City Hall, efforts at intimidation of our advertisers and contributors, all designed to shut down the paper in order to take away the chance our citizens have to talk to, and learn from each other.
But through all of these years, residents have held fast and continued to write and submit the content of this paper, confident that their words were necessary and appreciated. So congratulations and thank you! Thanks to you, this is the oldest community written paper in the country. 334 papers, 5,344 pages later, we are still going strong.
Interested in getting involved? Join us for an Observer Party where you can meet writers, share ideas and eat a lot of cupcakes. Check next paper for details. If you'd like to just get started, go to our website, click on Member Center, and start writing. Can't wait to hear what you have to say.