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Thursday, July 05, 2012

Publisher’s Notebook

• Lulls in the Malibu News Process •

BY ANNE SOBLE

In addition to regularly receiving feedback on what is covered in the latest issue of the Malibu Surfside News, we receive slews of inquiries about what is not covered in the current week’s edition.
Whether these queries arise in emails, telephone calls or when people drop by the office on other matters, the questions often are along the lines of “Why hasn’t there been something lately on a, b, or c?” or “Isn’t there going to be more coverage of x, y, or z?”
News stories are as different as their subjects. Some stories call for weekly updates, such as whether a missing person has been found yet. With others, such as a law enforcement investigation that involves complicated county coroner’s office laboratory testing, there can be weeks or even months between developments.
Instead of repeatedly indicating that there is nothing new to report in these slow moving narratives, readers can count on updates being done as new information becomes available.
Similarly, local public policy issues can follow what, on occasion, seems like a convoluted and never-ending trajectory. What should be a relatively straightforward linear process can be subject to fits and starts. Citizens are urged to view any public or governmental concern as ongoing that has not been definitively addressed by official action.
But Malibuites often do what citizens do with regard to most government activity. If the news about an issue takes a short-term break, their long-term interest—even when the issue directly affects them—may wane. However, because nothing is currently happening on a matter, doesn’t mean that something won’t happen in the future. Those who don’t regularly follow local issues run the risk of being caught off guard.
As for the people who view local news as peripheral and unexciting, they should keep in mind that it does not take very long for a focused and determined individual or group in a community to push for specific objectives and achieve them.
Taking over the public policy process is not that difficult, especially in a small city. Those who tell themselves that a proposal floating around is “unlikely,” probably “doesn’t stand a chance,” or is even “illegal,” and respond passively may be in for a major surprise. The policy game may be over before these residents decide they want to be players.
Readers who have questions about the current status of a news story or public policy issue are always welcome to email editor@malibusurfsidenews.com or call me at 310.457.2112/NEWS and ask when the next update is anticipated. Those calls are especially welcome when they bring a new dimension to a story and indicate that it is about to heat up.

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