Can Light Stay Afloat?

POINT REYES -- Can Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Mitchell keep his small, renowned, and cash-starved newspaper going? It's a question...

"We're in a difficult situation," he says, clenching an unlit pipe between his teeth. "A few people not paying their bills have put us in a strain." It's another Friday; exactly a week since the phone call from the bank prompted him to drive to the cabin for his checkbook. But there's neither desperation nor self-pity in the editor's voice. "We're not in a crisis," he says. A crisis is not being able to publish next week. And Mitchell isn't thinking about that, even though, with his grubstake dwindling, the laws of economics appear tilted against him.

He's got plans for a quarterly travel publication, and he talks of extending the Light's circulation area, although it's difficult to see why anyone in Petaluma -- 19 miles and half a world away from Point Reyes Station's isolated splendor -- might want to pick up the newspaper.

In the meantime, he'll hunker down.

A World to Itself: The Light's readership area is 
dominated by Point Reyes National Seashore.
James Sanders
A World to Itself: The Light's readership area is dominated by Point Reyes National Seashore.
The 1979 issue announcing the Pulitzer.
The 1979 issue announcing the Pulitzer.

At the Stage Coach Cafe, a posse of regulars huddles over breakfast each morning; until recently, Mitchell was foremost among them. They're already missing him. That's because it's cheaper to cook at home.

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