Burroughs, the founder and editor of East Palo Alto Today, has four or five volunteer reporters who cover meetings and write stories. Others contribute guest columns.
But it's largely a one-person show, from deciding on the stories to editing them, to writing stories, to taking the 8,000 copies of the paper to drop-off points around town.
The newspaper includes stories about what's happening in East Palo Alto and the Belle Haven area of Menlo Park, columns and some advertising. Burroughs would like to increase the advertising so she could hire a staff.
She had three summer interns from Stanford University, and three others from a county summer-employment program for youth.
"Having interns is a flavor of what having a staff would be like," she said.
Burroughs has worked previously in journalism as a reporter for the New York Post in the 1970s and in television news in New York and the Bay Area, and has written free-lance stories for the Weekly
But she's never started a newspaper before. Not many people know the uncertainty, fear, hard work and (sometimes) exhilaration such an effort includes.
"It's stepping into the unknown," she said. "It's a risk at many different levels."
But the effort is getting noticed and the newspaper is being read.
"I think it is still very positive and people really welcome it," former Mayor Sharifa Wilson said. "It reports on everyday things that are happening in the community which aren't reported elsewhere."
East Palo Alto officials and residents have long complained about how their community is portrayed in stories in other newspapers, which often highlight conflict or crime. East Palo Alto Today contains the "everyday things" that help define the texture and pulse of a community: a calendar of events, obituaries, wedding announcements and letters to the editor.
The stories are also printed in both English and Spanish, an important consideration in a community where more than 60 percent of residents are Latino.
"It is making a difference, getting the word out about things that are happening," said Faye McNair-Knox, executive director of the nonprofit One East Palo Alto. "It is a new resource and it is valued."
William Webster, a longtime resident and city Rent Stabilization Board member, said it's difficult to gauge the impact the newspaper is having in the community after seven months.
"People I know are very interested in having stories placed in East Palo Alto Today. In that sense, it is a vote of confidence,î he said."
East Palo Alto Today has not yet ventured into controversy. But that seems more a question of when, not if.
Vice Mayor A. Peter Evans is the subject of an investigation being conducted by an outside attorney hired by the city after the assistant city manager filed a complaint against him for allegedly harassing and defaming city staff. And there will be a City Council election in a few months. So there will be opportunity for controversy and disagreement within the paperís pages.
But Burroughs wasn't thinking about controversy a couple of weeks ago when she was waiting for the fifth issue of the paper to come off the presses.
"I'm always focused on getting the next one out and how I can do it more efficiently," she said.
A former East Palo Alto resident now living in Atlanta saw a copy of the paper online and e-mailed Burroughs, thanking her for a recent editorial.
But the work is a challenge, she said. "There are times when I think, 'What was I thinking of?'" she admits.
But then the truck pulls up with 8,000 copies of the next issue, which she said is the most gratifying time for her.
This story contains 657 words.
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