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Monday February 24, 2003

As the owners and publishers of the new Berkeley Daily Planet, Mike O’Malley and I would like to report to you, our readers and advertisers, on our progress toward re-launching the paper. We didn’t exactly get a functioning paper, more like a do-it-yourself kit for putting a paper together -- without an instruction manual. Nevertheless, we’re getting there. We’ve located the computer archives, and, as you can see, we’ve figured out how to do the Web page. Several staffers from the old Planet are back, and Diane DeRoo, a dynamic advertising sales manager with long experience in the newspaper business, has joined our team. She’s even a graduate of Berkeley High. 


The most amazing aspect of this transition is the enormous support we’ve received from the community. We’ve had so many volunteers that we haven’t been able to use everyone who offered to help. We’ve made great strides -- we’ve moved to a brighter office in a lively neighborhood at 3023 Shattuck. And now that we’ve moved in (well, there are still about 50 boxes to unpack…) we’re ready to get to work on actually publishing a paper.  


Every day brings enthusiastic letters and calls from people eager to see the new paper. The purpose of this Web Preview is to give you, our potential readers and advertisers, a look at our plans so far. It’s also your chance to tell us what you want from the new Planet. Write directly to me, Becky O’Malley: 


We liked many aspects of the old Planet, and we’d like to keep them. On the other hand, we do want to see some improvements in the areas that were not as strong as they could have been. My main job for this period is to define editorial policy and to hire new staff to carry it out. Mike O’Malley as Publisher is working with Diane and others on our business plan. 


As the founders of Berkeley Speech Technologies, Inc., Mike and I know that “Berkeley” is a great brand. Nationally and internationally, as well as in the Bay Area, the Berkeley name connotes intellectual leadership and a sophisticated international lifestyle. Berkeley is famous both for our Nobel Prize winners and for our food. Berkeleyans are also renowned (and sometimes derided) for our political vision. We hope to create a new and improved Planet which reflects all we’re proud of about Berkeley, where we’ve lived off and on since about 1958.  


Berkeley is an interesting place, an international destination and a cultural icon for many. Papers like the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette and the New York Observer reach not only locals, but also those who are interested in reading good writing about the unique locales where they’re published. A Berkeley paper should have the same kind of appeal.  


We want the new Planet to attract readers and advertisers from what we think of as Greater Berkeley. That includes not only current Berkeley residents, but people who used to live here, people who wish they lived here, and of course people who shop here. It means people who love Berkeley, and even people who hate Berkeley and all that it stands for. With the new Planet, we expect to serve advertisers who want to reach all these diverse readers.