Topanga’s Independent Voice Since 1976

Flavia PotenzaBy Flavia Potenza      August 21, 2020

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Topanga’s Independent Voice Since 1976
Editor, Flavia Potenza
“WE’RE CONFUSED!” Our community has given us feedback and, in the way it’s supposed to work, we’re listening. It seems readers can’t wrap their minds around Topanga as a two-newspaper town. As a result, we receive emails complaining that readers can’t find a particular article and the reason is we didn’t publish it. It was the “other paper.” We’ve experienced some confusion ourselves as we’ve struggled to define The Canyon Chronicle and how it differs from the Topanga New Times. Thanks to your feedback, we finally decided on a tag line: “Topanga’s Independent Voice Since1976.” Look at it. Savor it. It carries a lineage and a legacy in that statement. To our point, we have one foot in our past and our sights set in the future. Admittedly, the Canyon Chronicle has only been around for two months, five editions. There’s certainly no legacy or lineage there. I was the founding editor of the Topanga Messenger in 1976; that is the through line to the now. It’s not about me and some egotistical out-of-control drive to keep creating newspapers. It’s about ensuring that the service a newspaper provides has a solid business foundation that anyone with an independent spirit, open mind, and the required skills can pick up and carry on. She may hate me for saying this, but Mary Colvig was the rock who kept the Topanga Messenger going for 40 years. By 2016, no one was in the line of succession and the paper was struggling. In a gallant flourish, she closed the business 40 years to the day on which it was first published, December 1, 2016, and left a legacy that was not about her alone, but a community. R.I.P. Topanga Messenger—1976-2016. The community was shocked, people were depressed at losing something so entwined with their lives.
Publisher/Editor Flavia Potenza and Media Director T.E. Zeri, hold up the cover of the first edition of The Canyon Chronicle in the bedroom “office” of Potenza’s home. This was a moment of uncontrollable exuberance upon seeing the 24 pages laid out on the floor. So much for high tech when you’re a lowly start-up business but nice to know low-tech is sti
Fast forward now to The Canyon Chronicle. I have no idea what drove me so hard to continue a newspaper in Topanga for a third time—the work is demanding, and I certainly have no aspirations to die at my desk—but it seemed essential to carry it forward. Thus, the Messenger Mountain News, which lived for three years, and is not yet gone but lurking in the shadows until its owners can come to an agreement to exorcise it.

But look what sprouted from the moldering bones of the Messenger Mountain News. Topanga has two publications!

I won’t speak for the Topanga New Times, the “interim, not-a-newspaper,” as Bonnie Morgan proclaimed in its seminal editorial. Whatever it is, they seem to be having fun.

As for The Canyon Chronicle, we have our own path. Be assured we are not negating any prospect of fun. We are building on a lineage that began with the Topanga Journal* in 1946. That gives rise now to the understanding of what it means to have a community working with you. It also testifies to the integrity and dedication to journalistic standards inherent in the responsibility of such an endeavor.

Here’s a thought: We have two coffee shops in Topanga, why not two papers? Wrap your mind around that one.

Meanwhile, we hope The Canyon Chronicle will live up to the values set before us: “Topanga’s Independent Voice.”

*The Topanga Journal was published by Hugh Harlan from 1946-1952. It’s available as a Microfilm Master at the University of California, Riverside, CA
Flavia Potenza

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August 21, 2020

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