Changing with the Times

Society has a strange existence of its own that extends beyond any human life-span. Each of us is inextricably bound to the place and time in which we?re born. First we must learn about the infrastructure of our daily lives. We must learn the rules within the context of survival. We find out what the pecking order has been since before we arrived, and where we now stand in line. The next lesson is to understand how free we are to change what we don’t value, and to create what we do value.

What is true for individuals is also true for groups of people working together to create something of value. In the case of a few dozen writers, photographers, deliverers, editors, programmers, salespeople and others living and working in or near Vallejo, there has been a concerted effort made to produce a newspaper that has been called Listen & Be Heard Weekly. Previously limited to being a weekly e-mail newsletter, (for which you can still sign up by sending an e-mail to mailinglist@listenandbeheard.net), we added a much more comprehensive print version two and a half years ago. The mission from the beginning has been to fulfill the promise of diversity, and we took a great leap by putting out a newspaper that has become the most comprehensive guide to arts, culture and entertainment that you will find for this entire region. We can make that claim thanks in great part to the diligent work of Cyndi Combs, our Calendar Editor. Week after week the extraordinary photographs by S.N. Jacobson of artists of all stripes have been featured on our cover, and many a grateful emerging artist has thanked us for the honor!

The e-mail newsletter continues to be a great way to keep our patrons and fans informed about all our activities. To be honest, I don’t recall exactly when we started offering all the content of the print newspaper, and more (like a weekly color slideshow of photos taken during the previous week, not all of which made our black and white print version) on our website at www.listenandbeheard.net. I think it was about a year ago. Thanks to the efforts of Alison Pilapil, we now also have archives going back to February 2006. Thousands of people have visited us on-line, and I’m sure will return for their favorite column or calendar, or to read a review before going to see a play or movie or buy a cd or book.

We’ve learned more about the media world into which we ventured as we’ve grown, and we’ve come to realize that it’s time to make some adjustments for the sake of our own survival. As a whole, the newspaper industry is seeing a decline in advertising dollars. This is due in part to a shift in the market to the internet, where many old and established news companies have now established or are scrambling to create a presence. News companies are making this move in order to be able to continue to serve the needs of their sponsors. Another factor is the high cost of print and delivery, especially at the pump. Our solution is to keep the print version of Listen & Be Heard alive by switching to a monthly format that will look more like a magazine. Our purpose in making changes is to better fulfill our mission, and to continue to be able to do it with the consistency and quality that you have come to expect from us.

We will be taking a step up in the quality of the presentation of our print news, which I hope you have already noticed. There will be more changes in our appearance to come. We believe that it will serve as a better showcase of local talent and small businesses. If you’re asking yourself what will happen next week when you want to get all your news, the answer is that you will still be able to go on-line for the same weekly news, reviews, calendars and guides, that you have been enjoying up until now. The print version of the newspaper is a great way to reach out to new people and draw them in from all over the Bay Area and we fully intend to continue to come out with an ever-improving print product. But you can also expect us to venture into the very latest technologies and offer you a full multi-media experience on the internet in the months to come.

As always we want to hear from you, whether it’s love or displeasure (no hate mail please). Write to us and tell us how we’re doing, what you like and don’t like, or just whatever is on your mind. Wishing each of you Peace and Poetry.

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