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As a New Year arrives, Tri-City Voice is celebrating our 18th year of publishing our newspaper; beginning with What’s Happening Magazine in 1998, followed by Tri-City Voice in 2002. In those days, the news media, especially print, was facing huge challenges to present news in an informative and relevant manner. Consolidation of the newspaper business, competition with electronic and round the clock reporting via radio, television and internet upset traditional sources that relied on slower and more moderate news gathering.

Speed was an essential component of the news business, but fact checking to preserve truth was the primary responsibility. Trust was, and remains, a crucial element between consumers and media personnel. The public felt it could rely on most reporting by news organizations as fair and impartial, based in supportable facts. The concept of “alternative facts” was left to sensationalistic and extreme commentaries, considered entertainment rather than serious journalism. A corollary of news reporting was that if it was printed by a responsible newspaper, it must be so. As the pressure of speed and other forms of communication surpassed veracity, even honored and trusted news sources became suspect. Currently, sensationalism threatens the entire news industry, freedom of the press and our democracy.

Tri-City Voice understands that although world, national and state events are extremely important, our publication will remain committed to the communities we call home. We have remained true to that philosophy and credit this with our continued existence. During this time, challenges to our business and those around us have been daunting but, along with many others, we weathered severe economic storms and continue to serve the Southeast Bay Area, a rich tapestry of business, ethnicity and bedrock of industrial power. The cities and communities we serve provide energy and innovation for the entire San Francisco Bay Area, United States and the world. Increasingly, Silicon Valley innovation is concentrated within our communities. With this comes an increased challenge to use local resources wisely while taking advantage of our position in global commerce.

As we face a New Year, some new faces and those of well-known public leaders are poised to conduct civic business for us. Their role is to carry out the will of their constituents while ours is to review, guide and critique what is done. Each component of this scenario relies on the other to do its job. If the system fails, its deficiencies can be traced to all parties rather than simply pointing fingers of fault in one direction or another. This election cycle will challenge our collective ability to discern fact from fallacy at all levels of government. Benjamin Franklin expressed a sentiment of his times that extends to everyone – man, woman and child: “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors and let every new year find you a better man.”

Tri-City Voice proposes a toast to the New Year with a quote by T.S. Elliott, poet, critic, playwright and editor: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

Happy New Year!

Bill Marshak
Publisher/Editor in Chief
Tri-City Voice

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, If you see it in THE SUN its so. Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Each year, I step aside to let perennial eight-year-old, Virginia O'Hanlon, pose a question that has reverberated for over a century. She wrote a letter to the editor of New York's SUN in 1897 and the response, printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897, the work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church, has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial. It is especially relevant in this year of national and international turmoil and divisive rhetoric.

Merry Christmas to all!

Bill Marshak
Publisher/Editor in Chief
Tri-City Voice