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February 25, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, February 25, 2005

A new point of view A new point of view (February 25, 2005)

Chinese newspaper competes with new English version

By Julie O'Shea

Journalism is a competitive business. One doesn't have to look long in downtown Mountain View to find his daily dose of hard news. Paper stands line the breezeways with headlines from the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News, the Voice and the Palo Alto Daily News, keeping readers abreast of the latest top stories.

But now there's a new publication vying for a piece of the public's attention. In December, The Epoch Times, an international Chinese newspaper chain with its Bay Area bureau in Mountain View on Wyandotte Street, launched an English edition. It can be picked up at local Asian businesses like the Golden Phoenix supermarket, New Tung Kee Noodle House and Alpine Books.

The first section of the thin, broadsheet newspaper is solely dedicated to national and world news. Its inside section, however, is a medley of news from around the Bay Area, though no stories from Mountain View have shown up yet. Chief Editor Dean Tsaggaris wants to change this, saying in an interview last week that he hopes to touch on important issues facing local governments and schools.

But Tsaggaris admitted that with just eight-and-a-half reporters and writers working for him, he could use some more help covering the nine-county Bay Area.

"We are trying to talk about a little from every location," Tsaggaris said. "It's limited how much news we can bring to people."

Tsaggaris said he is not worried about trying to compete with other newspapers that cover the area extensively. He added that the paper isn't trying to market itself to any particular group but acknowledged that The Times has a completely different look and feel than anything else in the newsstands today.

"We aren't trying to copy the Chronicle or anything else. We are trying to create our own guidelines," said Tsaggaris, whose business cards read "A Fresh Look at Our Changing World."

"We don't answer to advertisers. We have a vision of what we want this paper to be," he said, adding that he is actively trying to sell more ads.

Based in New York, The Epoch Times was started nearly five years ago as a China-centered publication. It is meant to give readers in Communist China an independent voice that isn't afraid of writing stories about topics other Chinese newspapers aren't willing to touch, such as the SARS epidemic.

"The paper really believes in freedom of speech," Tsaggaris said.

The free weekly publication, which comes out each Thursday, is available in several cities around the U.S. and the world. In 2003, The Times started publishing an English version online. And in 2004, it went to its current newsprint format.

"We definitely want to be a mainstream society newspaper," said Steve Ispas, the newspaper's director of operations. "We are going to improve and expand our local section.

"We are just starting out, but there's a lot of things to talk about in the Bay Area," he added.

Tsaggaris and Ispas have worked steadily at promoting The Times' English edition since its debut two months ago. Considering that the two work at the paper only part-time, it seems like they haven't done a bad job at getting the word out. Circulation has quadrupled since its first ru. Now, 12,500 copies areg delivered around the Bay Area with 2,500 delivered in the Mountain View area alone. (Residents can also pick up the weekly at various shops in Los Altos, too.)

And for those who don't live near a distribution center, they can get the paper delivered to their home for a small fee. Ispas said he recently received a letter from a Santa Cruz man who wrote: "Finally, a newspaper worth paying for."

E-mail Julie O'Shea at [email protected]

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