Remember Karen Wittmer? Chris Dix? Fred Hamilton? Stan Hall? Bill Brown? Oscar Perado? Reg Henry? Norm Spaulding? Lew Leader?

I do. I remember them all because these were my peers, as editors, publishers and top management at other newspapers in Monterey County. Ten years ago, if you had said to me that in 1998 I would be the most senior editor and publisher in Monterey County, I would have thought it impossible. But, in fact, the comings and goings in local media these past 10 years has been nothing short of remarkable. And, as a result, context in news coverage has been largely lost as a generation of newbies arrived to take the helm. They don''t know the history. And are therefore apt to repeat it. Or worse, misinterpret it.

A quick flashback: There have been three publishers at the Salinas Calfornian since 1988; three publishers and three different owners at the Monterey County Herald; two owners at the Carmel Pine Cone; and four owners of the Carmel Valley Sun. The last decade has seen the demise of the Monterey Bay Tribune, Seaside Sentinel, Pacific Grove Monarch, La Voz, The Review, Monterey Times, The Shopper, The Panorama, Monterey Life, Monterey Bay Magazine, and Pacific Monthly. That''s eleven publications I can remember that have come and/or gone in recent years. No wonder I feel so lucky that Coast Weekly thrives.

Certainly the world has become transient and local media is representative of this trend. All three local network television stations have changed hands at least once since 1988. Our local cable TV operator was bought out by the mega-company TCI. Radio stations have continually been sold and consolidated. KTOM and KOCN now operate out of the same headquarters. KPIG, KBOQ, KMBY, CD93, and KXDC are all owned by one group, New Wave Broadcasting. None of the commercial stations offer local news. Unfortunately, neither do our public radio stations: KUSP used to produce a daily local news show, as did KAZU, under the direction of then news director Benny Cunningham, offered extensive local coverage.

I miss Benny and his bundle of energy, his enthusiasm for news, his reassuring voice that shined in his minute-by-minute updates during the earthquake. I miss Lew Leader''s dry sense of humor and Chris Dix''s zaniness. Norm Spaulding was one of the most cantankerous people I''ve ever known; I''m sorry for his passing, but I''m not sure I miss him.

But mostly when I survey the media, I''m humbled that Coast Weekly has become a steady voice in our community--one with an experienced staff that can provide insight and perspective. We''ve been the only media that has consistently reported on changes to the local media scene. We analyzed the sale of the Herald both to Scripps-Howard, and to Knight Ridder. We reported on the consolidation of radio stations. We watched and reported on the quality of the evening TV news. We''ve written about our favorite local Web sites.

Best of all, our editorial staff has been responsible for Coast Weekly''s content for a significant period of time now: Associate Editor Chuck Thurman, 10 years; News Editor Jill Duman, nearly seven years; I''ve been editor and publisher for 10 years now, too. Richard Pitnick and Sue Fishkoff are both veterans covering local issues. Our reporters and editors are top-notch, and in my opinion, Coast Weekly and the community are lucky to have each of them. Considering the transient media landscape, and the complexity of issues facing the county, I''d like to believe our stability and experience have brought deeper understanding to local issues.

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