The Canyon Chronicle. Why Now?

Flavia PotenzaBy Flavia Potenza

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The Canyon Chronicle.  Why Now?
When the Topanga Messenger was conceived and born in 1976, we were a mix of wannabe hippies and solid citizens, who said, “Hey, this town needs a newspaper!” It didn’t come about because of any one person. There were nine of us…and a community. One person may have said, “Let’s create a newspaper,” but eight others agreed and said, “I can do this,” “I can do that.” We started with $33 and our first ad. We assembled the paper in several people’s living rooms, sitting on the floor with a typewriter, doing layout and paste-up on a coffee table. It would be a while before we would have any semblance of an office. A computer eventually made it into our world, stone-age technology that helped us run just a bit more efficiently.
The night we cranked up Sid Francis’ behemoth printer in his print shop, we watched it churn out page after page, then packed them up and drove them to the Community House where the community was waiting to collate them into the first issue of the Topanga Messenger. I seem to recall we were up most of the night. They were some of the most exciting moments to be alive.

The paper continued to publish for the next 40 years, thanks to one more person: Ian Brodie, foreign correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph and The Times’ Washington Bureau. He invested in the Messenger and remained its publisher until his death in 2008.

When the Messenger was dissolved in 2016, 40 years to the day since it began, the community was devastated. What to do, they wailed.

What else but start another newspaper? With the advent of the Messenger Mountain News in January 2017, the community heaved a sigh of relief but it’s three-year tenure would crumble around a broken partnership that fostered an “interim” paper, the Topanga New Times, that seems determined to stay.

As the Chronicle launches, we will have dueling newspapers in our mountain hamlet of 11,000 people. A surfeit of riches, I say, in a time when we’re facing a pandemic of existential crises.

Topanga will always need a newspaper and what the Chronicle brings is a robust team of experienced journalists, business professionals, digital creatives and designers to bring fresh perspectives and a greater online presence to the community at large. With little promise of reward, they are the ones this time who said, “Here’s what I can do,” and we took the first step forward together.

The times don’t call for business start-ups. When anticipated start-up funding for the Chronicle fell through with a resounding “No!,” a day of heartbreak followed by a phone call, resulted in setting up a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $15,000.

I will be forever grateful for that “No!” It was a gift. In a week we were looking at $10,000 in our GoFundMe account. Amazing as that is, the best part of that “No!” was not only the money but that it came from the heart of the community. It says that The Canyon Chronicle can truly be a community newspaper.

In the darkest of times, what remains essential is to be informed. We aspire to maintain the same business model of a free paper that is delivered to the entire 90290 as long as the advertising is there to support us. The success of the GoFundMe campaign has guaranteed the birth of a new newspaper and an important community resource for years to come.

The Canyon Chronicle thanks you and vows to work to bring you a competitive and relevant newspaper that reflects our world and brings it to the world around us.
Flavia Potenza

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June 26, 2020