05-09-24

www.montereycountynow.com May 9-15, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 15 Thirty-one years ago, when I was first hired at the Weekly, I started in classified advertising sales. At that time, the paper was five years old, and there was no such thing as “digital media.” We had one 386 PC in my department to run a DOS-based classifieds program, another one for admin to run our accounts receivables, and a few Apple IIG computers to run Microsoft Word for editorial and QuarkXPress for production. The only things these computers were connected to in 1993 were two $20K laser printers. That’s back when we used X-Acto knives and hot wax to paste up story and ad galleys on grid-lined flats on top of light tables. After the issue was put to bed, the flats of pages were tucked into a banged-up, yellow, oversized briefcase and driven to the printer—first in Salinas, then Monterey, later in San Jose. Today, I am Director of Digital Media, a job that didn’t exist in 1993. It’s part IT guy, part help desk, part webmaster, and part whatever needs doing to fulfill our technology needs. The latest initiative to fulfill our technology needs, and those of our readers, is an overhaul of our website. You may have noticed since April 19 that we’ve freshened up our fonts, simplified the navigation and reorganized the homepage. We have a new URL and a new name, too: Monterey County Now. We changed our name to better reflect what we do and how we serve our readers. The change also reflects our changing digital world. The first web browser, Mosaic, came out in 1993. In 1995, we connected our office computers together on a Novell network and installed Snap Mail, instantly becoming hopelessly dependent on email. In 1996, we replaced the two $20,000 printers with three $400 printers and debuted on the world wide web as CoastWeekly.com, reflecting the name of the paper from 19982004. That same year, Craigslist moved from being an email listserv to a website—and would threaten to eat up classified ad revenue within a decade. The internet has been a blessing and curse ever since. During the late ’90s, dial-up became a thing and more and more people started venturing online. People received AOL’s installation floppy disks by snail mail. Y2K was a nothingburger, followed by the dot-com bomb. By the early 2000s, sites like AltaVista, Yahoo and AskJeeves began paving the way for Google. In 2007, the iPhone put the internet directly in our pocket. Social media started to go viral with MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Over the past 20 years, the Weekly has had many incarnations of the homepage. We’ve made changes to our print layout too, but the digital evolution is much more dramatic. By 2020, the Weekly had been publishing near-daily content online for over a decade, but when Covid hit, we—like everyone else—needed to make changes to keep up with fast-changing information. With most distribution locations closed, and readers staying home rather than going out to grab a copy, we started publishing a daily e-newsletter. It remains part of the shift in how and when we produce and deliver news. The daily e-newsletter is here to stay, sharing stories from the Thursday print edition as well as much more web-only content. The website redesign also reflects this change, delivering longform pieces alongside breaking news of the day. Today, we are proud to offer you much more than our shiny new website, including: our weekly printed newspaper, a daily e-newsletter, a Best of Monterey Bay® magazine series, a philanthropic partnership for Monterey County Gives!, a community space in The Press Club and, most importantly, a vision for reporting the news: hyperlocal, community-minded, now. The urgency is reflected in the name change, but the editorial process is unchanged. I continue to be awed and inspired by the care and dedication our reporters put into each article. Through 36 years of ups and downs, of base closings, water issues, wildfires, earthquakes, recessions and celebrations, we remain steadfastly dedicated to this community. Please join us online at MontereyCountyNow.com, note our new email address suffixes, and you can continue to find a print copy of Monterey County Weekly at 290 sites around the county every Thursday. Kevin Smith is Director of Digital Media at Monterey County Now. Reach him at kevin@ montereycountynow.com. A Digital Revolution Changes in news lead to our new name: Monterey County Now. By Kevin Smith Bridging the Gap…Squid loves to drive the jalopy, windows down, along Highway 1 just as much as any selfie-taking tourist. These days of course, the journey is difficult due to limited access—and also a battle between Caltrans and, well, everybody else. The agency wants to replace six historic bridges on the Big Sur coast, all in various levels of deterioration. That includes the Garrapata Creek Bridge, built in 1931, and according to a 2015 Caltrans analysis, “the barrier rail posts are severely deteriorated with many small cracks beginning to emerge.” Sounds like a good, safe idea. And yet: Practically everyone in the driving public hates the idea of replacing a historic bridge with a relatively ugly, modern bridge. (Specifically the balusters—those railings on the side—would be closer together, limiting the view from the bridge. “The balusters of the Garrapata Bridge constitute the windows through which the world sees the adjacent magnificent coastal sea and landscape,” members of the Albion Bridge Stewards wrote to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors on April 25.) But the supervisors don’t need persuading. Last year, Caltrans got denied by the County Planning Commission, then appealed to the supes, who denied it too. A working group has been meeting since then to sort out a compromise plan. That plan was scheduled for consideration on May 7, but pushed to June 25 because like everything on Highway 1—traffic included—it moves slowly. False Flag…Like all living creatures, Squid does some things without thinking, such as drawing water through Squid’s gills, or strapping on a seatbelt when rolling in the jalopy. But in most cases, Squid stops to think first. That’s why Squid was surprised to learn that on May 1, a public works employee with the City of Seaside, per protocol, raised the Israeli flag at City Hall to commemorate Jewish American Heritage Month, all while war rages in Gaza and thousands of innocent people have been bombed by Israeli forces. Not to mention, Seaside is home to the county’s only mosque. Perhaps it was protocol, but, c’mon—tensions are running high throughout the nation, and instead of being celebratory, it landed with offensive impact. Once it was brought to the attention of Acting City Manager Nick Borges, just after 8pm, he had it taken down within 20 minutes. He says the staffer who raised it was essentially on autopilot and wasn’t thinking. Squid can only assume that this employee was completely oblivious to the war in Gaza and the tragic toll it has taken in human life, and that an Israeli flag these days represents more than heritage. Squid’s only flag is one that honors the shared planet between landlubbers and sea creatures. the local spin SQUID FRY THE MISSION OF MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY IS TO INSPIRE INDEPENDENT THINKING AND CONSCIOUS ACTION, ETC. It’s part of a shift in how and when we deliver news. Send Squid a tip: squid@montereycountynow.com

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