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Role Reversal

Q&A with Lisa Rule Associate Publisher of The Acorn
NewspapersConejoView: The Acorn is the go-to newspaper in 10 communities!

How did you become a journalist?

Lisa Rule: I’m not a journalist; I’m a business woman. As a teen, I wanted to escape New Jersey and go into the Army. My father said, “you’re going to college” and took me to every college in New Jersey. I said, “Dad, you’d do great at these schools, but they’re not for me” and ended up at Menlo College where I met my husband. Jim (Rule, publisher of the Acorn) was assistant producer of the Love Boat. A friend asked him to go into the newspaper business. It was a two-thirds pay cut but he accepted an offer from the Acorn to be publisher. We moved to Oak Park, had two babies and then the Acorn went up for sale. On our wedding anniversary, we were bidding for it and got it! My first reaction was, “What have we done?!”

CV: You don’t often hear the words “credibility” and “journalism” together yet the Acorn has a reputation for accuracy.

LR: People come at things with different lenses. If we pre-sent all the information, people will make the right decision.

To me, the worst thing you can do is editorialize a headline. We send out 144,000 newspapers, yet people can call Jim and me; if we’re wrong, we want to correct it. In the age of now with the desire to be first, you lose accuracy during the editing process. Many internet journalists are in such a rush to publish their work that they don’t spend the time to research and check their work.

CV: Why is a community newspaper important?

LR: We’re different from a daily news-paper in style and mentality. We’re so invested. When the economy was crashing, we were getting 10-15 bankruptcy notices a week. We were approached by India to do our printing; it was much cheaper and we seriously considered it. The tipping point for us was the realization that we would no longer be a source for young journalists and publishers to learn their craft. It’s important to stay local.

CV: Many newspapers have merged or gone, yet the Acorn has grown. Why?

LR: We’re not afraid of bad news or the exposé but there’s so much to celebrate in life: inform, entertain and protect.

CV: What differentiates the Acorn?

LR: The Acorn is how we view the community, and we think it helps build a sense of community too. We’re a watchdog but not an “I gotcha” watchdog. We want our elected officials to be a success.

CV: Regrets?

LR: No; I work with Jim. My only stipulation was to work from home when the kids were young.

CV: Are you enjoying publishing Beyond?

LR: In 2012, I had cancer and was depressed. Jim kicked me in the butt and said “Go make something!” I always wanted a magazine and he gifted me one. I love it.

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