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The Observer

By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Is anybody there?

Uploaded: Jun 25, 2012
I've been writing about San Ramon for ten years. When I started the San Ramon Observer website in January of 2002 I covered City Council meetings and tried to be objective about them. I also had a Commentary page where I could be completely opinionated.

Readers would criticize my opinions as, well, opinions. It seems if a reader didn't like my opinions, then I wasn't a journalist. I repeated over and over that the Commentary page is for my opinions and the Front page is for news.

It cost me about $1500 a year to operate the San Ramon Observer website. I didn't make any money from it and I was getting tired of doing it all by myself. So I contacted Embarcadero Publishing and offered to give them the San Ramon Observer website if I could stay on writing my Commentaries. I wanted a real news organization to take over reporting the news so I could continue writing commentaries.

In December, 2008 I met with Bill Johnson, Publisher of the Palo Alto Weekly, and Gina Channel Allen, East Bay Publisher of the Pleasanton Weekly, and they said they were starting up an online "newspaper" called The San Ramon Express, which would be an electronic version similar to the already existing Danville Weekly. The Danville Weekly would also be converted from a weekly newspaper to an online Danville Express.

I was very happy with this arrangement. I liked being involved with a real new organization of professional journalists. The first year I wrote for the San Ramon Express I covered local news stores and I also wrote something called a "blog," with my opinions.

The term Blog came from "Weblog," which was originally an online diary where anyone could write anything. It didn't really matter if anyone read it and most of whatever anyone was writing was rather mundane. I recall one blogger was ridiculed for writing he had a cheese sandwich for lunch. Stop the presses, set the headline, blogger eats cheese sandwich!

Well bloggers have taken on more cogent subjects and blogs have grown into internet news sites like the Huffington Post but that still doesn't equate blogging with journalism. When I'm accused of not being a journalist, I tell my critics I'm not a journalist or a reporter, I'm a "blogger." A reporter is someone who reports the news in an impartial, factual manner. There's no clear definition of "blogger," but it appears bloggers can say anything they want as long as it is on the Internet.

For about a year I was paid for news stories, but not for the blog; so I continued to write news until I negotiated a fee for the blogs. I rarely write news any more, but it should be easy to tell a blog from news. News covers the five "W's" of journalism, who, what, when, where, and why. Bloggers and opinion writers draw conclusions and take positions on the W's. That's what commentaries are for.

I consider myself a commentator. Someone who writes an opinion column about what I like or don't like and why my readers should care. I try to post two blogs every week, one on Monday and one on Friday. I can't always come up with something to write about.

In this case I'm writing my blog about writing my blog, but I really want feedback on how I'm doing. So I hope someone reads this far and answers me with what you would like me to write about.

I try to keep up on what the City Council and Planning Commission are doing. I try to keep up with other organizations and agencies and happenings in San Ramon and the Tri-Valley. What do you want me to write about? Are my commentaries on local politics helpful or confusing or does anyone care?

I this because I believe it is important to comment on local politics and issues. I have no loyalties other than trying to identify what is best for San Ramon. If anything I'm saying is wrong, and someone can prove that to me, I'll change it. So please tell me.

This is my space to tell you what I think. If you disagree with it, please post a comment and say so. I can't tell if anyone is reading my blogs anymore, and I really want to know who's out there.
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by David Ernest, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jun 25, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Roz - I read every one of your blog's and look for them all the time. I enjoy your opinions and while I do not always agree, I respect the way you present your thoughts.

Please keep up the good work.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jun 25, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Thank you so much, David. I appreciate your reply. If you ever disagree with anything I write, please say so. I respect your opinions too.


Posted by mloliver, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jun 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I agree with David and I have no problem disagreeing with you, as you well know, although I think we agree more often than not. I look forward to your commentaries and I think "commentaries" sounds more well-informed and educated than "blog." I guess it's a connotation thing. Words are your tools of the trade, and you use them well.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jun 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Thanks, ML,

We are from a generation that predates "blogs." I prefer opinion writer, columnist, Op Ed, or Commentator.

I looked up the definition of "blog," and it said it could be anything. That's not specific enough for me. I like to know what a word means before I use it.


Posted by tiki3, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jun 26, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Yes, I read most of your posts.
I'm still a little new to this town and am only just feeling confident enough in my knowledge of the happenings to voice my own opinions.
Trust me, I'll have no problem disagreeing with yours ;)

btw, I'm impressed with your dedication to San Ramon. It's inspiring.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jun 26, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Thanks, tiki3, I've seen some of your posts before. Thank you for answering. You picked a great place to live. I may be critical at times, but San Ramon is still a lot better than almost anywhere else!


Posted by Eric Wallis, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jun 26, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Roz - it is always refreshing to read your take on things. You cover - whether by opinion or news - matters which often get omitted from the larger publications. I find it very useful to see others' viewpoints and the facts upon which they are based - please keep writing.

Posted by Harry Sachs , a resident of San Ramon,
on Jun 27, 2012 at 11:24 am

Roz- I have enjoyed your insights and commentary for many years. I think if there were more stories about the destruction of trees you would see much more input from the public.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jun 27, 2012 at 11:47 am

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


I wrote my blog on the Bollinger Canyon Trees two weeks ago. It received only one reply about Phil O'Loane's comment that the sidewalk is used for utilities. So far no one else has commented on the trees.

Web Link

I consider the trees a misdirection. It's the bike path that should be moved so that the sidewalk can be reduced by 4'. Since the utilities are in the 4.5' next to the golf course, they will not be touched by narrowing the sidewalk. Then the median can be maintained as is.

The problem with this solution is where to put a bike path to Dougherty Valley. I have some ideas on how to do this, but I'm not sure if they are practical or affordable since the money cannot be billed to Shapell because bike paths (and sewers) are not in the ill-conceived Dougherty Valley Settlement Agreement.


Posted by Resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jun 28, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Now that we have a city council that is more moderate about growth and a mayor who is more open and inclusive, things have gotten blissfully boring around here. Let's hope it stays that way.

I do think there's a story out there about our lack of nice evening oriented eateries. Most seem to cater to the lunch crowd (ie fast food pizza & sandwich shops & otherwise don't linger cafes). When my wife & I wanted to celebrate an anniversary recently, we ended up in downtown Danville after coming up blank for a nice spot here. Walnut Creek and Dublin have plenty of nice places and they are now less populus cities. I heard something about even lone Izzy's changing to something less upscale?? With our stellar demographics, why can't our city attract a few nicer restaurants like the rest of the area has?

Posted by Paul Mitchell, a resident of another community,
on Jun 28, 2012 at 10:03 pm

I enjoy reading your commentaries every couple of weeks, even though I moved 400 miles away five years ago. Reading your commentaries helps me keep up with the politics and activities where my family and I used to live.

Posted by Scott Perkins, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jun 29, 2012 at 10:22 am

I read your Observer regularly and appreciate your perspective. I would say "fair and balanced" but that now has political connotations. I don't always agree with everything you write but I need to see that there is another view that is not mostly driven by emotion or proximity to activities or projects (NIMBY). Please continue to write it as you see it and I will continue to read it and reflect on an alternative view.

Posted by Sam Ramon, a resident of Alamo,
on Jun 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Well, I think you deserve a raise.

Posted by Bob P, a resident of another community,
on Jun 29, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Roz, I was probably one of your first loyal readers/participants and I continue to see the value of this forum for exchange of views. Keep up the good work.

Oh, by the way. Resident (nice name), you state in your post, "Now that we have a city council that is more moderate about growth and a mayor who is more open and inclusive, things have gotten blissfully boring around here. Let's hope it stays that way." I'm not sure what your frame of reference is, the council majority has not changed.

You also state, "With our stellar demographics, why can't our city attract a few nicer restaurants like the rest of the area has?" I have a two 2 word answers, City Center. Support it.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jun 29, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


One of the reasons I wrote this rather "itchy," (you can add the "b" later) blog, was because I was looking for the year you suggested I apply for the Parks and Planning Commissions. I found all of our old correspondence from 6 or 7 years ago saved in my Yahoo emails.

You used to comment on my commentaries all the time. I felt I disappointed you and you changed your opinion of me. I hope that's not so, because I really enjoyed our email exchanges back then. I'm glad to see you answered here too.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jun 29, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


There was a recent article about Izzy's closing in that other online paper named after a Pirate's eyeware. I liked Izzy's but I have to admit I only went there twice. It started out very good but the quality dropped little by little and so did the customers.

Everyone says they want upscale restaurants in San Ramon but when we have them, they don't attract enough business to stay in business.

I've been trying to save the Mudd's Restaurant building. That building is a great example of early environmental and sustainable architecture, but it was failing as a restaurant. You can find nice restaurants in Danville and Dublin but you can't find a building like Mudd's anywhere else in the World.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jun 29, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Bob P and Paul,

I'm always glad to see you here in the blogs. I wish I could see you both here in person again.


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