The coronavirus pandemic is killing a horrifying number of people; it’s also finishing off America’s local newspapers, which have been in a state of decline for decades. But the joint pressures of online news and economic recession may be the death knell for print journalism as we’ve come to know it.
Newspapers have always relied on advertising to support their operations. Although subscription newspapers enjoy some financial support from readers, free papers like the Sonoma Valley Sun (and this website) rely almost entirely upon paid advertising for financial support. When that advertising largely dries up, as it has now, continuing publication becomes challenging.
The Sun is largely a volunteer effort, with only two paid staff. All the regular columnists are unpaid, and nearly all the reports and in-depth articles are either provided pro bono or for a very small fee. Although recent editions have just broken even, we at the Sun are still committed to providing our community with a range of opinions, insights, and perspectives otherwise unavailable.
For nearly fifteen years, the Sun has been Sonoma Valley’s independent voice, regularly offering news and commentary unfettered by corporate or moneyed interests. We’ve explored and investigated city and valley finances, uncovered and reported improper governmental activities, analyzed complex community issues and tensions, provided regular interviews with people who make our community unique, explored the favorable and unfavorable history of our community, profiled workers and volunteers, and offered articles about the arts, music, food, and local entertainment. In short, with limited financial resources, we’ve published a thought-provoking, informative, and entertaining paper, edition after edition.
However, like many small free newspapers, we’re at a crossroads. It’s uncertain how long the negative financial effects of this pandemic will last, and without additional financial support from our readers, the Sun will be hard-pressed to survive. Although we are offering discounts to advertisers and nonprofits, their ability to make payment is itself challenged. We need reader support to continue.
If you appreciate the Sun and want to continue enjoying it, we ask you to consider providing some financial support. To step up and help the Sun continue to flourish, go here. If you prefer, you can send a check in any amount to: P.O. Box 238, Sonoma CA 95476.
Any amount you would like to give will help the Sun continue to provide the unique voice we offer, and shine light on our local heroes, community-serving activities, non-profits, and issues that need to be addressed.
Sun Editorial Board