(Editor’s note: we sent this survey out around in November but we’re looking for as many responses as possible — please help us out and tell us what you think so we can improve in the new year!)
WILLITS, CA, 1/02/18 — Happy New Year! We are The Mendocino Voice, and for the past 15 months 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 immune. By closing locations such as century-old Willits News’, and cutting back reporting staff around the county, the national corporate chains have demonstrated that they’re not up to the task of providing news to rural communities.
All of The Mendocino Voice’s current and past staff has previously worked for the corporate chain that owns The Willits News and the Ukiah Daily Journal, we saw the cut backs up close — and we wanted to do something about it, try something different. So we began building an online newspaper to bring you breaking news, when you need it, trying different things and learning along the way.
We’ve got big plans for 2018, and we think we can do even better, bringing you website improvements, expanded coverage, new data tools, and much more. With our small staff 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 our 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. (For more information about the Local Independent Online News Publishers Association any why it’s important, check this out.)
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.” Making it difficult to get essential information, but even harder for people to hold officials and agencies accountable to the public trust.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- We’ve also got advertising information for local businesses, who want to reach a bigger audience and connect to the future of Mendocino, and some special advertising offers happening now to help you market your business in the new year.
- If you like what we’re doing, consider investing in the future of locally owned and independent journalism in Mendocino County: support us and sign up on our Patreon page, or get in touch at email@example.com to learn about other ways to invest in our business and take local news to the next level.
Thanks, as always, for reading,
Kate B. Maxwell – Publisher
Adrian Fernandez Baumann – Managing Editor