Opinion: Bringing Back an Infusion of Personal Journalism

A great surfing story, profile and example of participatory journalism

The author on her first time out with her Dawn Patrol board. PHOTO: MICHAEL ALLEN

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

I’ve been thinking lately about the disappearing art of the classic alternative-press first-person story. It may seem ridiculous to worry about the loss of the first-person perspective in a world where there’s more of it than ever, especially online. But I’m not talking about opinion essays, or the thousands of blogs that package editorializing on someone else’s reporting as original work. I’m talking about truly personal journalism, the kind pioneered by “New Journalists” like Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson and Gloria Steinem; the “participatory journalism” of George Plimpton, who would actually join and play with everything from pro sports teams to orchestras in order to get the most insightful story possible.

I got a hit of Plimpton from Liza Monroy’s cover story this week; it’s ostensibly a profile of maverick Santa Cruz surfboard shaper Carl Gooding. And it is that, don’t get me wrong—Gooding is a fascinating subject. But Monroy’s story is just as much about her own journey, and the challenges she faces as a woman surfer—some of which she wasn’t aware of until she started taking a deeper look at exactly how the design and shape of a surfboard works—and eventually, designed and shaped one herself. I think it’s a great surfing story, profile and example of how participatory journalism continues today.


Letters to the Editor


Re: Water District Merger

This whole idea is a complete waste of time and money. Everyone knows that Scotts Valley is going to develop more with the Town Center and more high-density housing. And absolutely nothing to build more water production and storage infrastructure. Soquel Creek Water District is spending $100 million to use less than 15% of the wastewater, when they could have used 100% of it for the same amount of money, contingent on if they could use the rail corridor for a larger pipeline. Said pipeline could be extended to Deep Water Desal. Now you have plenty of water to eternity. But, no, we need the brilliant Rail + Trail billion-dollar project. Morons control the infrastructure decisions in California. Let’s build a section of High Speed Rail, or don’t fix a $10 million repair job on Oroville Dam. Everyone in SLVWD is going to oppose this, and they already started sending in their protests today.

— Bill Smallman

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