EGP’s Core Values Will Live On

By Raul Vasquez

Everything comes to an end, the saying goes. And I guess that’s true. But in thinking back to the days I was a fresh-out-of-college reporter working for Eastern Group Publications, there are some things about this newspaper chain — and how it was run by the Sanchez family— that I hope don’t ever end.

Raul Vasquez grew up in Boyle Heights in an immigrant family, and earned a degree in history from UC Santa Cruz before working as a writer and assistant editor for Eastern Group Publications in the early 2000s. He now lives in Milwaukee with his family and continues to work in the communications field.

If this really turns out to be the final issue of Eastern Group after 72 years of consecutive publishing, what should live on are the core values that drove its editorial direction since 1979, when Dolores Sanchez bought it.

Civility. Giving a voice to the voiceless. Fairness. Protecting children and the elderly. Truth. These are just some of the core values that drove how Eastern Group was run as a company, and what it stood for editorially. I know because from 2000 to 2004, I formed part of the editorial staff.

To get an insight into the mind of Owner and Publisher Dolores Sanchez, you would just have to read the paper’s editorial page.

On Wednesdays (deadline day), us reporters and designers were running around like chickens without heads trying to wrap up our sections. Meanwhile, Dolores sat in the quiet of her office, with her reading glasses hanging over her nose, as she wrote the week’s editorial, which would run at the top of page 2.

Whether it was standing up for the rights of children to have a good education, shedding light on the plight of the city’s homeless, demanding transparent and clean government from local officials, pleading for a sensible resolution to the immigration issue, or endorsing candidates for an upcoming local election — you could always be sure that Dolores completed the editorial column with the utmost seriousness and professionalism.

“One of the responsibilities a newspaper must take seriously is the endorsement of candidates for public office,” she wrote in one editorial column in November 2001. “It’s at times an uncomfortable position to be in, since oftentimes those we do not endorse are candidates we have worked with in the past and are good people…”

Decisions needed to be made, however, and they needed to be made for the good of the community, not one or two individuals. This idea permeated throughout the pages of the newspaper, decade after decade.

The masthead in the days I worked for Eastern Group carried the words of Abraham Lincoln: “That government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” As it happened, the events on the morning of September 11, 2001, shook the country to its core, and more than any other event, challenged the essence of Lincoln’s words.

As I take a fresh look at Dolores’ editorial from September 13, 2001, I am reminded of the tempered wisdom that drove the newspaper forward.

“It would be simple but wrong for us to degenerate into a country seeking revenge against innocent people because of their color, religion or ethnicity; only then can these terrorists claim victory over us,” the editorial stated. “For ourselves, we at Eastern Group Publications have decided to continue with publishing our special 16 de Septiembre edition as a testimony to the love of independence and respect for the rights of others this day commemorates, and as a tribute to those who lost their lives or loved ones in Tuesday’s despicable acts.”

Dolores and her husband, Associate Publisher Jonathan Sanchez, believed that a free press was one of the pillars of a fair and democratic society. As a reporter, you could tackle just about any newsworthy subject so long as you did it fairly and accurately.

On a personal level, Eastern Group was the first newspaper to give me a regular writing job. I was extremely lucky because it allowed me to cover the community and region I grew up in. During those years, I discovered wonderful things about my community I would never have known otherwise, and it allowed me to explore and tackle some of the ills I saw as well.

Today, I no longer write for a newspaper, and I live far away from California. While I’m saddened to know that other young and aspiring journalists won’t have the opportunity I had, I also know that as long as I live, and wherever it is that I do write, I will carry forward the core values I learned at Eastern Group Publications, so that these may live on.

Raul Vasquez grew up in Boyle Heights in an immigrant family, and earned a degree in history from UC Santa Cruz before working as a writer and assistant editor for Eastern Group Publications in the early 2000s. He now lives in Milwaukee with his family and continues to work in the communications field.

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February 1, 2018  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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