In this erratic time of corporate buyouts, mergers, and downsizing, I''m proud to report that the Weekly continues to grow, and remains a steadfast, independent voice for Monterey County residents.

Independence from outside corporate or Wall Street interests has permitted the Weekly to continually take chances with its editorial product in order to provide essential information to citizens, with the goal of delivering a well-researched and well-written journal of Monterey County life.

The Weekly maintains a strictly local perspective because 100 percent of the Weekly''s staff and ownership lives locally. We are connected to every aspect of this community: sending our kids to school, biking on the Recreation Trail, sitting in traffic, shopping, and spending time and money at local shops, restaurants, and nightclubs, as well as at arts, cultural, and other public events. We want our home to be a great place to live, to raise our children and to grow old. We want Monterey County''s economy to remain vital and its environment to be pristine--a place where people live together and flourish.

It''s a special relationship between the community and the business of publishing that manifests a strong local newspaper. Nearly all of the advertising placed in the Weekly is from small, local businesses. There are few ads from national businesses like Wal-Mart or Target. It''s not that we wouldn''t like to have these advertisers, but it''s a reflection of the way large corporations typically make buying decisions from distant offices. Their marketing directors rarely have or take the time to decipher the unique qualities of a particular community. If they investigated Monterey County, they''d discover that the Weekly has a larger circulation than any other area newspaper, and they''d hear an amazing number of testimonials from local advertisers--hands-on business managers--who are in a position to know best how their advertising is working.

I share this with you, our readers, because you should know how much we appreciate your willingness to pick up the Weekly every week, to comment on our stories, to attend the events we publicize, and to support our advertisers. It''s your relationship with the Weekly that enables this county to have an independent source for news, arts and culture, even classifieds. Thank you for that.

So, what''s this all about? I have some exciting announcements. Since founding Coast Weekly in 1988, I''ve served as editor and publisher. Recently, I''ve committed to modifying my position in order to work on more strategic issues and other special projects, as our growth demands. Thus, I''m pleased to announce I''ve taken on a new role as executive editor and publisher.

Erik Cushman, our valuable vice president and director of operations for the past two years, has been promoted to the position of publisher. I would not consider sharing the important responsibility of managing the Weekly with anyone less able than Erik. He''s an experienced newspaperman whose knowledge, energy and intelligence have played a vital role in our recent growth. I feel fortunate to work with Erik and have great respect for his high standards, keen eye for detail, and likable personality. And Erik has managed to maintain these qualities even though he hasn''t had a full night''s sleep in the three-and-a-halfmonths since he and his wife, Kristin, had their second child. He promises this will soon change. Even though he''s awake nearly 20 hours a day, he''ll only be available to the public during business hours. Erik can be reached at 394-5656 x125 or through email: erik@coastweekly.com.

Additionally, I''m pleased to announce the hiring of Eric Johnson to serve as editor. I''ve known Eric for many years through our industry, and am gratified that the Weekly''s editorial department will be led by such a capable professional. Eric has spent the past four years as an editor and newspaper executive, working for Metro Newspapers in San Jose and Santa Cruz as well as Silicon Valley''s Click Magazine. I met Eric years ago when he was the editor and publisher of Montana''s Missoula Independent, where he and Erik Cushman were partners. With Eric Johnson at the editorial helm, the Independent received the prestigious General Excellence Award in 1996 from the Society of Professional Journalists. He can be reached at 394-5656 x 107 or via email: ejohnson@coastweekly.com.

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Traci Hukill will continue to inspire us in a new position as features editor. We''ll all be enjoying more of her superb writing in future issues. I think you''ll agree that this is a very good thing. Traci can still be called at 394-5656 x 105 or through email: traci@coastweekly.com.

Again, thanks for reading us and please keep sending those Letters to the Editor. Your feedback, news tips and story suggestions are vital to maintaining a dynamic Weekly. You can be sure we''ll be working harder than ever to continue earning your respect.

--Bradley Zeve, Executive Editor & Publisher
394-5656 x 103 or bradley@coastweekly.com

Team Editorial (Seated): Newly named Publisher Erik Cushman; calendar queen Catrina Coyle; ace reporters Jessica Lyons and Andrew Scutro. (Standing): photog Randy Tunnell; newly named Editor Eric Johnson; still-the-big-boss Bradley Zeve; Associate Editor Chuck "Ironman" Thurman; and newly named Features Editor Traci Hukill.

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