By BRENDA REES
Tim Tritch didn’t even have to think twice when Tom Topping, longtime editor of Northeast Los Angeles’ Boulevard Sentinel, asked if he wanted to take on editorial duties of the monthly newspaper. Topping was moving out of state and wanted to pass the mantel of his 18-year creation to a willing recipient.
“He called me out of the blue and I told him yes right away. I wanted the job,” says Tritch whose family name is instantly familiar to those who have longed shop at Eagle Rock’s Tritch Hardware, an institution that’s been in business for more than 70 years. Yes, he’s part of that big family; no, he only worked there as a youth. “It was a rite of passage for everyone in my family. My parents had 11 kids after all. I’m number 8 in the lineup.”
Why would a guy with a 35-year background in medical sales want to plunge into the world of journalism at a time when newspapers and print media are going the way of the dinosaur?
“I have read this paper since day one when Tom started it,” explains the 52-year-old Tritch, who has lived in the Eagle Rock area most of his life. He remembers the original publication was more like a newsletter, printed on white paper, not newsprint, and the focus was mainly Eagle Rock. Through the years, however, Topping expanded the presence, reach and content of the publication.
“There is a lot of loyalty to it from readers to advertisers and I want to keep it going,” says Tritch. “I see the paper as a way to produce good citizen journalism and look into real big issues of the area. To me, there are two sides to every side of the story.”
With two issues under his belt, Tritch is pleased that each issue has featured a front-page article that was picked up by mainstream media. The September paper ran a story on the constant battle over a failed construction site on Colorado Boulevard, which Tritch and others have dubbed as “Pillarhenge.” The local CBS news station picked up that story.
In October, Tritch was interviewed by the local ABC news station on the issue of mail theft in Northeast Los Angeles – which was also a front page Boulevard Sentinel article.
“This little local paper can be an important vehicle to all of us who call Northeast our home,” says Tritch. “I want to tackle some of the real issues we face, but also make sure to remind everyone of all the good news that goes on here daily.”
The Boulevard Sentinel is a one-man job, says Tritch, who directs a staff of reporters and writes himself. He’s learning the challenges of managing advertising, designing layout and overseeing printing as well as distributing the 12,000 monthly copies to more than 350 outlets around Northeast from the back of his car. The biggest distribution point? Coco’s Restaurant on York.
“It’s been a lot of fun and all the goodwill I receive make all the challenges worthwhile,” he says.
Tritch has big plans to increase the presence of the Boulevard Sentinel name on social media but admits, “Rome wasn’t built in a day. I’m taking things one day at a time.”