Time To Say So Long

ron zion2Thanks for the Good Times

I started my first newspaper job when I was 10 years old, when I sold the Herald Express on the corner of Lankershim Boulevard and Riverside Drive in North Hollywood, Calif. The year was 1956. I stood on the corner trying to hawk the paper to passing cars stopping at the traffic light. It was boring, so I decided to put the papers on my bike and go around to all the businesses in the neighborhood, and wound up creating a route for myself, consisting of local merchants in the area. I found that to be much more productive. I received tips and sold many more papers than when I stood at the corner. My pay for selling each 10-cent paper was 3 cents. I was paid daily, and I would take my earnings down to the nearby bowling alley where I would spend it all on the baseball pinball machine. Little did I know that the newspaper business would be my career for 30-plus years.

I began my real newspaper career in 1979, at a new weekly alternative publication called the Los Angeles Reader. Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons) worked there doing a weekly cartoon column called “Binky,” and was also a paste-up artist for the paper. The Reader was a good springboard for both of us.

Since my initial foray into the world of publishing, I have done just about every job associated with newspapers. I have delivered papers, designed and sold ads, acted as an accounts receivable clerk, edited copy, assigned stories, and managed many a sales staff. I have worked at five different weekly newspapers in my career, and at one time was a part owner of the Los Angeles Reader. The one job I have never attempted is writing, but with this column, I can now add that to my list. And, for all intents and purposes, it will also be my last duty at a newspaper.

Friday, Sept. 28 will be my final day as publisher of Good Times, a position I’ve held for more than 10 years. I will no longer be actively involved in the everyday management of the publication, but will continue to support our mission in my new role as Director of Community Relations for Good Times.

I first came to Good Times on June 1, 2001. I knew it was the next step in my career, and I couldn’t have been more excited to get started. In looking over the paper at the time, I felt my past experience had prepared me perfectly for this challenge. I could see by the way the paper was produced that there was much that could be done to improve the quality of both the editorial and the layout of the newspaper. And, considering its leading position as the largest circulated publication in the market, almost double the circulation of the Santa Cruz Sentinel, I also knew the advertising revenue could be much more buoyant than it was at the time.

ron office250I can now gratefully look back at our newspaper’s track record and know that the vision I had then has become a reality now. In fact, it has expanded a great deal over this period of time. Good Times has distinguished itself with our strong editorial coverage, the unique stories we write of courage and inspiration that focus on the people that make Santa Cruz County such a special place to live, and also with our comprehensive guide to weekly happenings.

We have also made a commitment on a weekly basis to giving nonprofit groups a voice to tell their stories, helping them create more awareness of the great work they do for so many less fortunate people in our community. I’m proud to say that the Good Times Holiday Community Fund, working in conjunction with the Community Foundation and the Packard Foundation, has raised $671,295 for 43 different nonprofit groups since 2001.

Also important is that we have been recognized by our newspaper peers, the California Newspapers Publishers Association, for our writing, graphic design, and, the most distinguished award, General Excellence, for weekly newspapers. We have also been honored by the community as Business of the Year by the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce, and we have received awards from the City of Santa Cruz Arts Commission for our commitment to the arts and by United Way for our media partnerships.

What has made my job most rewarding are the relationships that I have forged with my staff, both past and present. I have been fortunate to work with the same group of talented and dedicated managers the entire time I have been here. Many of the people have been here longer than me, and they will be here after I depart. This is so gratifying—to see people grow and develop their craft, hone their skills, and increase their knowledge. While I may have had a vision when I first took over the newspaper, my editor, Greg Archer, and my art director, Josh Becker, and their staff, have made the paper come to life every week through their words and through their images. It is so much easier to be a good leader when you have a staff that shares your passion and cares as much as you do about the work you are putting out every week.

Supported by this loyal and dedicated staff, I have been able to immerse myself in community groups such as Second Harvest Food Bank, United Way, Workforce Investment Board, Tannery Arts Center and the Downtown Santa Cruz Commission. And now I will have the opportunity to continue my involvement in these groups.

It is with humility that I thank my staff, our readers, and the greater Santa Cruz community for giving me more than 10 personally rewarding years as publisher of Good Times. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I will miss this dance, but I will find a new rhythm and, more importantly, I will still be in Santa Cruz.

—Ron Slack

Publisher (June 1, 2001–Sept. 28, 2012) [email protected]

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