The tracks are new and they lead to a place where community journalism thrives, avoiding sidings and spur tracks where multi-billion dollar hedge funds buy local newspapers, strip them of their assets and dump what’s left.

Ride the Express to a time when mom could clip out the part of the news page that had her child’s name printed as a member of a school’s honor roll and paste it a scrapbook, a time when there was a story published about the big game and pictures of the athletes who participated.

And if, along the route, there’s someone with a particular opinion about something, there’s an email mail hook on the Express where bags of letters to the editor can be put for The Express to pick up on the way to its next issue.

All that and more is coming down the tracks for residents of the Westside.

The former publisher of the Los Banos Enterprise, Gene Lieb, will be the conductor of The W.E. as it carries news about Dos Palos, Firebaugh, Los Banos and Santa Nella. Lieb brings decades of experience aboard and will keep the Express on the main line as it gains momentum.

Helping to keep the wheels turning will be 209 Multimedia, led by owner Hank Vander Veen. He and his talented staff will be making sure that the local news pages are designed and printed with the master craftsmanship of fine-tuned locomotive. 209 Multimedia is not new to the world of journalism. Vander Veen owns many community newspapers in the Valley including the Manteca Bulletin, Turlock Journal, Ceres Courier, Oakdale Leader, Gustine Standard and others. He looks forward to helping keep The Express on track.

Gaining that momentum in the coming months will be the challenge because The Express’ isn’t powered by steam or diesel fuel, it doesn’t glide along magnetic tracks powered by an electrified rail and it isn’t propelled by magic or voodoo. The Westside Express is people powered, WE the people keep it chugging along by either subscribing or advertising or both.

There’s good news for future ticket holders, a ride on the Express is cheap. A full year’s subscription is less than a tank of gas for the family car, or if one’s vehicle is all electric, less than the annual jolt to the power bill. It’s only $52 a year. That’s one dollar a week.

So don’t get sidetracked, jump on board The Westside Express! It’s going to be a grand experiment in local journalism and a fun ride. Thank you!


Gene Lieb


The Westside Express