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Summer detour

by   JUDY HODGSON


Art Director Carolyn Fernandez and I were in San Diego last week to attend the annual California Newspaper Publishers Association Conference -- our first. (This is the conference where publishers get together to discuss such weighty topics as, "Is anyone making any money on their web site?")

In the old days CNPA did not allow free circulation newspapers as regular members. Now, with two years under our belt as a weekly, we qualify for membership -- and the right to compete in its Better Newspapers Contest.

Happily we brought home one award -- a second in layout and graphic design. Carolyn and her merry graphics crew -- regulars Linda Schwend and Grace Kerr, and part-timers Cindy Noble and Rita Pender -- deserve all the kudos.

Times-Standard reporter Carla Martinez won a first for Spot News reporting on Julia Butterfly Hill's descent from her two-year treesit. And the mighty (little) Ferndale Enterprise brought home two CNPA awards -- a second for Editorial Comment and a first for Columns, Comment and Criticism. (Each newspaper competes in its circulation/frequency category: the Journal, weeklies up to 25,000; Times-Standard, dailies up to 25,000; and the Enterprise, weeklies up to 4,300.)

While we were there, my husband and I stayed in the home of some old friends we knew well in graduate school in Oregon in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We sat up far too late each evening trying to solve the world's problems, just like old times. (They were supporters of Bobby Kennedy and we were Eugene McCarthyites.)

Fast-forwarding to the present, it was interesting to learn that many of their current events sounded suspiciously like our current events -- airline irregularity, the fight to save historic buildings, nobody wanting a permanent homeless facility in their neighborhood. But unlike Humboldt, topic A in San Diego was the tripling of utility rates almost overnight following deregulation. (Maybe there are blessings in being behind the times for a change.)

There is a postscript to a story we ran two weeks ago regarding that annoying new PacBell service that offers to let you know when a busy number is free -- for 95 cents, that is. The word is, keep trying if you want the service removed. We were originally told it would take 48 hours, but we had to keep calling for nearly two weeks in order to get it off the line. It seems PacBell has been overwhelmed, we were told, once "some newspaper printed the number in the paper."

Oh, darn.

(For those of you who missed it, it's 1-800-791-6661. If you are put on hold for a lengthy time, you may try your request in writing to Pacific Bell Executive Offices, 140 New Montgomery St., San Francisco, CA 94105.)


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