It’s been just about two years since we launched our crackpot scheme of reviving the Berkeley Daily Planet, which had gone under suddenly in November of 2002. We signed the papers on Dec. 12, the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, who according to legend appeared in the 16th century to a humble Mexican peasant and left a miraculous image of herself printed on his cloak. A day celebrating a miracle, in other words, fitting because it seemed that it would take a miracle to get the paper started again.
And, in fact, it has been a miracle. The paper is thriving. We are lucky to be supported by Berkeley’s best businesses, not to mention some of the best businesses in Oakland, Albany, El Cerrito and Richmond. If you’re looking for pharmaceuticals, office supplies, real estate, books—whatever it is, you can find what you want, the best in every category, advertised in the Berkeley Daily Planet. We’ve gotten the reputation of being the best place for the best businesses to reach their best customers.
We’ve had the best kind of help getting here, too. In the difficult months before our April 1 re-launch, dedicated friends helped with everything, including moving furniture when needed. One incredible piece of good fortune was finding our office in the heart of a lively Berkeley neighborhood on South Shattuck, with the world’s best landlord, Bob Sugimoto, who with his much-missed late wife Keiko made us feel right at home from day one.
This steadily increasing base of support has made it possible for us to expand our news coverage well beyond what you might expect to find in the ordinary hometown paper. We’ve broken many stories which later appeared in the much-better-endowed metro dailies: Our slogan could be “you read it first in the Planet.” A recent case in point: Thursday’s New York Times carried a story about credit card switches affecting UC alumni association members which our correspondent broke in the Planet last week. Key stories about the intense development pressure on the north bay shore, including the Point Molate casino, were first reported in the Planet. There are many other examples of groundbreaking news stories, too many to list here.
Our calendars are the most comprehensive and the most accurate in the Bay Area. Our arts coverage highlights unusual events you might not encounter in a more conventional publication.
Our opinion writers are certainly the best. We’ve gotten some amazing commentary pieces contributed by locally and nationally renowned authors on all sorts of topics. Our letter writers often break local news before our reporters do, and we’re proud to make that possible.
What’s next? We hope to continue making steady improvements in what we offer readers and advertisers. We’re starting a new feature: “Berkeley’s Best.” We’d like reader suggestions for topics, which could be anything from a fine business you patronize, to your child’s excellent teacher, a favorite croissant or a favorite tree in the Botanical Garden—anything, in other words, that you want to characterize as the best of its kind. Oh, and as usual, that’s the best of “Greater Berkeley”: not just inside the city limits, but also in neighboring towns. You can write up your nominee yourself, in 400 words or less, or you can simply tell us about it and we’ll write it up. You can send a picture, or we can take one for you.
We also particularly want to expand our coverage of topics which interest the greater Berkeley area’s concerned and dedicated parents and their friends and supporters. We all care about education—the only Berkeley tax measure which survived the recent election was the one which benefits the public schools. Today’s issue contains the first step in that direction: a new regular column by P.M. Price, who has two kids in school in Berkeley.
Between now and our second anniversary of publication in April, you’ll see even more new features and surprises. And of course, as always, we’d like your suggestions on what you’d like us to add. Without our faithful readers, who never hesitate to tell us what to do, we couldn’t have gotten here.