WILLITS, CA, 11/14/17 — We are The Mendocino Voice, and for the past year we’ve been engaged in an experiment. Newspapers nationwide have been cutting staff and coverage, and the North Coast, and Mendocino County, have not been exempt. The national corporate chains have demonstrated that they’re not up to the task of providing news to rural communities.
So we decided to do things differently, building an online newspaper to bring you breaking news, when you need it, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. We’ve got big plans, and we think we can do even better in the new year, bringing you website improvements, expanded coverage, new data tools, and much more. We’re working hard to turn this into a full service newspaper. We want to become the go-to news source for Mendocino County, and you can help us get there. We want to know what’s most important to our readers. Please, take a minute to fill out this brief survey, and help us create the best local newspaper for the county! (It’s also at the end of this article).
We know, and if you’re reading this chances are you know, that local news serves a vital function in our community. A local newspaper disseminates basic social information like when a fundraiser is happening, or where to get a flu shot; a local paper keeps you informed about the news you need to get through your day, like car accidents and road closures; and tells you what’s happening in local government, so you know what the latest is on property tax policy, or road projects. A local paper also exercises a watchdog function over municipal governments — bringing sunshine and transparency as a disinfectant. Without robust local newspapers, you might still have a ton of great reporting about what’s happening in Washington or Sacramento, but you’ll be in the dark about Ukiah.
A recent article in the Columbia Journalism Review outlined the devastation facing the press noting that, “Since 2000, nearly half of newsroom jobs—more than 20,000 of them—have disappeared.” Relying on billionaires or investment groups like the one that owns many local papers can create “news deserts.” And that means not only is it difficult to get essential information, but it’s even harder for people to hold officials and agencies accountable to the public trust.
During the Redwood Fire, we reached almost half a million readers, and now that the emergency is over, we’re going to take some time to make some improvements over the next couple weeks and months. During November, we’ll be making some changes to the website to make it easier to read and quicker to load, so you may notice a few less articles as we make those changes. But don’t worry, we’ll be back in full force before you it, with some exciting changes to announce for the future.
In the next month, we’ll be offering some news ways to participate in building a better local news source, and we’re also looking for people to get involved. If you’re interested in writing a column, organizing an event, or have ideas about stories, please get in touch at [email protected]. We’ve also got advertising information for local businesses, who want to reach a bigger audience and connect to the future of Mendocino. And if you like what we’re doing, consider investing in the future of news in Mendocino County: support us and sign up on our Patreon page, or get in touch at [email protected] to learn about other ways to invest more and take local news to the next level.
Thanks, as always, for reading,
Kate B. Maxwell – Publisher
Adrian Fernandez Baumann – Managing Editor