When I moved here in 1996 SoHum had one paper – The Life and Times, run by a very nice man who unfortunately had no stomach for covering controversy. In June of that year Garberville hosted a Rodeo Parade in which some geniuses decided to enter a float consisting of a car with an torso effigy of Judi Bari coming out of the hood and an effigy of Darryl Cherney being dragged behind by rope. According to a friend of mine, somebody got up from his seat in the Woodrose restaurant and went outside to take photographs where he was physically threatened by bystanders. Meanwhile, I was present with a child behind the crowd as the MC chuckled about it, and I decided to leave the event as I didn’t think it was an appropriate display for children.

The Life and Times refused to publish the photos and pretty much swept the matter under the rug.

Within a year or two I was invited to a meeting held at a picnic bench in Tooby Park. A group of locals wanted to start a paper that would actually provide some coverage of news other than announcements of Rotary Club events and high school sports scores. I volunteered some time to help set up a fictitious business name: The Independent. Within a few years the Life and Times shut down and the TS backed Redwood Times arrived thereafter. Both papers are willing to cover controversy and the community is much better off for it.

Sometimes there’s a bit of redundancy, particularly in the letters pages, but this week they seem to have tag teamed parallel stories. The RT covered the follow-up Mateel Board meeting and the 2005 ROR audit, while the Independent covered the Mateel censorship meeting – overlap in the players but two very different controversies.

I’ll have some thoughts on both stories later.