Editor’s note: A few months back we told you that The Mendocino Voice, in conjunction with KZYX, had been awarded a Report for America grant, and would be recieving a new reporter in partnership with that program. Well, Lana Cohen, our new environment and natural resources reporter has arrived and has been working on stories for the past few weeks, including articles on this year’s salmon count in the Eel River, Lake Mendocino, a new community park in Gualala, and more.
If you think there’s an important environmental and natural resources that need to be covered, get in touch with her at [email protected]. And if you’d like to contribute to more of this kind of reporting, and to keeping this program going here in Mendocino County, you can send a tax-deductible contribution at this link, or become a member of The Mendocino Voice.
Now a short word of introduction from Cohen herself:
I was immediately humbled upon arriving in Mendocino County. I drove across the country to get here, zipping west across I-80 for four days that sped by — a blur of asphalt, gas stations, and car snacks. On the fourth day, in the pouring rain that defined most of my road trip, I crossed over the Sierras and into my new home state, California. Dusk was settling by the time I reached Yuba City and as I reached the bottom of Clear Lake it was completely dark.
I was anxious to finish my drive. However, my plan to rush through the end of the trip was immediately hampered by my introduction to the windy roads of Mendo County. My inexperience with the narrow roads and dark curves had me pulling over every few miles to let the cars that were faster than me (all of them) pass by and get where they were going at a reasonable speed. Sitting in a pullout, laughing at my pathetic driving effort, I knew there would be a lot to get used to in my new home.
I come to your home from Brooklyn, New York. I’m definitely a fish out of water here in Mendocino. I have a lot to learn. I know that reporting on a community I just arrived in will be difficult, but I am dedicated to doing a good job — disseminating useful information to the residents of Mendocino County. That’s where I’m hoping to receive help from the community — suggestions, tips, requests about what you want to see reported on, especially on the topic of the environment.
Please reach out to me at [email protected] with your comments.
I found my way to Mendocino County and The Mendocino Voice through Report for America (RFA), a national service which hopes to hold powerful institutions accountable and strengthen democracy by improving the quality and quantity of local news.
Here are a few facts from RFA about changes to local journalism over recent years (you can find additional facts about the program here) –
- Almost 1,800 newspapers have folded or merged since 2004.
- More than 1,300 communities that had newspapers in 2004 now have no news coverage
- More than 500 of the newspapers that have closed or merged since 2004 were in rural areas.
As RFA explains, “News bureaus nationwide have shuttered. Editorial budgets have been slashed. Communities have suffered without coverage of important issues that affect them. At the same time, there is growing mistrust of journalists and the work they do. Our work building and scaling Report for America coincides with an urgent need for fair, independent journalism at a time when news organizations are struggling and our country is deeply divided.”
RFA, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project, hopes to place 1000 local journalists throughout the country to report on undercovered topics, improve communities, and hold powerful institutions accountable, by 2024. Again, please reach out to me at [email protected] with your comments.
Here’s a KZYX radio interview introducing Cohen as well, and you can follow her work at this link:
Welcome, Lana. You’ve arrived in one of the Last Great Places. You’ll discover that you’re among lots of Easterners, Brooklynites and city people of many stripes. Your beat, environment, is uppermost here. Logging and fishing, our mainstays for the generations before this one, still hold dominant positions in the regional consciousness.Now, here on the coast, we’re a tourist destination. The same twisty roads you found prevent us from being overrun. City people get spooked by these dark, winding highways. Bears and bandits.
I don’t doubt you’ve already noticed that we have a commodity New York mostly doesn’t: starry skies. If you’re a sky-watcher, you’ve already discovered that the streak of dim clouds across the night sky is not clouds. It’s the Milky Way, the rest of our galaxy, now invisible to most of humanity. On clear, moonless nights you learn that the faint light of stars is sufficient to see by without a flashlight. You can walk outside without a light (after your eyes adapt). On that score, by the way, there are “headlights” you can slip on to light up the dark while leaving your hands free. Rechargeable’s best. Enjoy the experience of darkness. Our bears are very shy. Mountain lions, too. Animal attacks on people are rare. Also, you’re not likely to get mugged.
Notice when a wave breaks on a rock, the foam quickly vanishes. Where the water is full of soap residues and other human additives, it’s not like that. The “suds” in agitated water remain. Here, no. Clean ocean.
As to our cultural goodies, they’re somewhat dormant because of the Plague. They’ll be back.
Thanks for the warm welcome, Mitch. Mendocino really does seem to be spectacular. I can’t wait to explore more.