The Hesperia Star remains the best newspaper job I've ever had. I can't believe it's already been 10 years since it started. I have so many great memories of the two years I served as editor. I proudly display my City of Hesperia "Golden Pothole" award in my office. I keep the clock the paper received for outstanding media coverage of public education from ACSA on my desk even though it stopped keeping time years ago.


But it has taken a new career outside of day-to-day newspapering to make me realize it was more than the great people I worked with or the fantastic community in which I lived that made working in Hesperia so great. At the Hesperia Star, I was able to witness how a community-focused newspaper can enhance people's lives an connect them to each other and to their community.


I didn't realize it until now but my time at the Star has influenced most of the research I've done as a professor. What I've focused on is finding how news organizations can better connect and re-establish credibility with their audiences. The key to that process, especially online, is a hyper-local focus. That's what we tried to establish from the beginning with the Hesperia Star. We started the newspaper to cover Hesperia, and Hesperia only. We recognized how much important information that Hesperia residents needed to make informed decisions, whether they were about local government, schools, or business, was missing from existing coverage. I vividly remember selecting our tour of the huge Helig-Meyers Furniture distribution center as our first story because I wanted to demystify the behemoth for readers and help them appreciate what they had. I'm glad Graco took it over after the company declared bankruptcy.


On the job, however, I quickly learned providing information wasn't enough. Maybe it was the good folks in the Kiwanis Club who taught me. Or maybe it was patient Kim Summers at the city or even the concerned citizens who frequently stopped by our offices with reams of information about city and county missteps. Maybe it was the smart columnists we invited to join our pages, such as Richard Doornbos.


In fact, it was probably all of them, and all of the readers I ever interacted with that helped me see journalism isn't a one-way street. The information any news organization provides is worthless if it doesn't bring its reporters and members of the community closer together. In Hesperia more than anywhere else, I feel like I was able to create those kinds of relationships. The pace was less hectic, the stories were more fulfilling and easier to get, and the community was more appreciative, maybe because they hadn't had what they needed before.


I still follow the Hesperia Star. Peter and Beau are doing more than I ever did to build community in the High Desert, especially through the Internet. I'm a proud fan of the Hesperia Star in Facebook, and you should be too. The Web may be better equipped at bringing people together and building strong communities than print because it doesn't need to wait for a weekly Wednesday delivery.


No matter how you get the Star, however, I'm glad I got to be a part, and I encourage you to not just read, but to interact. Let Peter and Beau know what news is important to you, what information you need to make good decisions. I know they'll be listening.


Hans Meyer was the founding editor of the Hesperia Star newspaper, which was started up by the Daily Press in April of 2000.