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HAtCHBeat Editor Liz Fedak Talks Starting A Neighborhood Newspaper

Photo: Flickr / Jaroslav A. Polák
By Amy Stephenson - Published on May 29, 2014.
A couple weeks ago, we noticed that there was a new print newspaper in town when 18,000 copies hit doorsteps. Called HAtCHBeat, the monthly paper aims to cover the Upper Haight, Lower Haight, Cole Valley, Alamo Square, Hayes Valley, and Golden Gate Park. It includes the notable addition of regular columns from Captain Corrales and London Breed, plus news, profile, events and advertising from local businesses. 

Curious, we caught up with editor Liz Fedak to learn more about the project. 

How did the idea come about?
"The publication came to be (hatched?) under a flickering light in a Sunset basement while Paul Kozakiewicz (of the Sunset Beacon) pasted together flats I would be copy editing for his papers. I was trying to figure out what to do after publishing bootcamp. He suggested that I start a newspaper. I'd been interested in doing so, and hearing someone else suggest it was the starting gun."

Tell us about the process.
"I got the scoop on the latest trends in wedding dresses while sitting around at City Hall completing a lot of paper work, met neighborhood newspaper publishers and learned what it's all about for them, took a tour of the printing press, rode around to see where I might distribute, hit up some press conferences, networked, wrote stories, selected history photos, hand picked a few reporters, copy edited, etc. The process was the actualization of two months dedication to all things HAtCHBeat (unless I was making lattes and sandwiches at my cafe job)."

How did you find funding for the project?
"I ditched my pointless car a while back after I finally tried letting go of my bike's brakes on this terrible hill in the Sunset that is 17th Avenue, which happened to be about the same price tag as a community newspaper."

How did you settle on the name?
"While drinking some mango Ceylon I decided changing the name was a great idea even though I already had a domain and logo. I typed HAASLHCVHV into one of those scramble word makers and thought the word HATCH had something going for it. Sonny and Cher made the Beat go on."

Any papers you took inspiration from?
"Let's just say that I listened to Lighght several times over while perusing newseum.org archives. Of course then I just wanted to meet my printing deadline, so I let the stories dance around the pages until they fit using SFNNA papers (ed. note: that's the San Francisco Neighborhood Newspaper Association) as a puzzle box cover."

What would you like to see out of Breed and Corrales's columns? What is Corrales going to cover that isn't in the Park Station newsletter?
"I introduced myself to the Captain at a press conference and asked if he would like to write a column for the community. If he writes about a block experiencing a spree of break-ins with safety warnings, new legislation that creates double-fine zones, gives friendly suggestions to use public transportation for areas with limited parking, invites everyone on ride-alongs, provides information on the number of calls that the station is receiving, explains DUI statistics and alternatives to getting behind the wheel, emphasizes scam warnings or information on meetings about public safety lessons such as how to avoid scams, or just seeks help on cases that are under investigation or writes a discussion on the history and methods of policing at the station, it'll be informative and I'd like to include it in the publication."

"From the Supervisor's column I envisioned updates on what's going on in the office and information on why certain projects are under way, but ultimately I gave them both a column with general freedom."

Look out for the next edition of HAtCHBeat hitting the streets sometime next month. In the meantime, you can contact them at editor {{at}} HATCHbeat {{dot}} com to learn more. 
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