Over the weekend, the Santa Monica Daily Press turned 10 years old, a remarkable achievement given the precarious state of newspapers today and the stubbornly lethargic economy that threatens small businesses like ours. We’re here to say don’t worry readers, we’re not going anywhere. We’re lean, we’re mean and we’re going to continue to provide the best local coverage of the city by the sea.

The Daily Press has come a long way from its humble beginnings in a small office on Wilshire Boulevard, appropriately located above the old Newsroom Cafe. The office was so small that meetings were held at nearby Renee’s courtyard bar. Hey, what’s journalism without a few trips to the local pub?

The paper started with a staff of three. Publisher Ross Furukawa sold ads, helped design and layout the paper, and, with the help of founding partner and editor Carolyn Sackariason, delivered copies to newsstands and businesses. “Sack,” as she was referred to around the newsroom, reported, wrote and edited her own stories and took photos. It was definitely a skeleton crew, but one that laid the foundation for success.

Furukawa readily admits that it wasn’t the most opportune time to open a businesses. The country was still in mourning following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The economy was suffering and local businesses were skeptical of another news organization opening up shop in Santa Monica, making it hard to gain traction with advertisers.

But the founders were determined and knew there was a need. Despite the challenges, the Daily Press persevered, and we owe our success first and foremost to our loyal readers and our advertisers. Without you, we would have certainly folded years ago.

For a writer, the most important thing is to have an audience. In Santa Monica, the Daily Press is lucky to have a community of readers who are engaged. There is never a shortage of feedback. Sometimes it’s painful to read, while other times it renews our passion for the profession. We learn from our readers every day and improve our product based on their suggestions. We know we’re not perfect, even if we strive to be every day.

Our readers not only provide input, but also good story ideas that we would not otherwise receive. The same goes for our sources throughout the community. We cherish your insight and respect the trust you have in us to provide sensitive information, all the while knowing that if your identity is revealed you could be hung out to dry. Having trusted sources is critical to any news organization.

As is cooperation from the major institutions in town. Staff at City Hall, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, and Santa Monica College, as well as other major employers in town, have been, for the most part, cooperative and responsive to our requests, even when they know they are going to be criticized in print. It’s an interesting relationship, given that the press acts as the watchdog, making sure government is good. They help make it possible for us to publish a daily paper on tight deadlines. They let us know when we get things wrong, and occasionally pat us on the back when we get them right. Overall, it’s a healthy working relationship. That’s not always the case in other communities. Just look at those who live in Bell.

We also have to thank all of the previous editors, staff writers, contributors, advertising sales staff, delivery men and interns for their dedication and sacrifices made over the last decade. We work weekends, we work holidays, and we do it because we recognize the responsibility we have as the fourth estate and because we’re a little crazy.

We will never forget our early supporters and those who have stuck by us through the years like accountant Samuel Moses, Izzy’s Deli, realtors Kate Bransfield and Gary Limjap, Main Street’s Omelette Parlor, and Taxi! Taxi! These are all local businesses, just like us, who depend on our readers to put food on the table.

And with that, the Daily Press wants to remind everyone that if we are to remain in Santa Monica for another 10 years we need your support now more than ever. It’s no secret that print journalism is struggling. Major daily papers have folded, while others have significantly trimmed staff, laying off those who do the heavy lifting while online sites and bloggers pilfer original content. Don’t be fooled by the aggregators. If you want good local content produced by professional writers with boots on the ground, continue to read the Daily Press and continue to send us feedback in the form of e-mails, letters to the editor and op-eds. Please continue to patronize our advertisers and let them know you saw their ad in the Daily Press.

We are committed to our model and believe that hyper-local publications like ours have a future. That faith is fueled by Santa Monicans’ belief in the freedom of the press. Keep it up, and we’ll do the same.

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