As this publication closes in on 20 years serving this community, it’s worthwhile reflecting on the state of local newspapers and journalism. It should be no surprise to anyone how difficult it is to sustain a local paper; across the country, they’ve gone under or been bought by larger newspaper groups by the hundreds.
There used to be local newspapers in almost every community, serving up a mixture of news reports, feature stories and social events, high school and local sports coverage, and marriage, birth, and death notices. Of course, the local paper offered local businesses opportunities to advertise to the customers they served. Opinion was also part of the mix; editorials and letters to the editor provided dialogue about important local issues. It was glorious, and in their own way, local papers helped knit the fabric of community.
It is, of course, quite different now. Here in Sonoma Valley, we’re still blessed with local papers, each doing what it can to bring news and reporting while staying afloat amid a media storm that’s sunk many a publishing ship. The rise of digital media in its many forms has doomed local publications, not just papers but magazines as well. Unfortunately, the content of social media ranges from informative to sloppy, downright inaccurate, and even destructive. Although social media, which by, lessening the monopoly of information held by powerful interests has democratized communication by creating outlets for ordinary people to convey their thoughts and opinions, it has also been infiltrated by players who deliberately seek to misinform and mold public opinion. The age of information, it turns out, is also the age of disinformation.
Nonetheless, here at The Sun we’re still striving to shed some honest light on topics and to be clear about the distinction between news and opinion. Because we publish only twice a month, we don’t see ourselves primarily as a newspaper providing breaking news news. Yes, when a news development is highly significant, relevant, and timely, we report it. But overall, we provide a range of opinion, reflecting the views of a wonderful team of dedicated columnists and writers, who, in their own way and style, seek to inform, provide perspective, and stimulate thought.
With rare exceptions for special circumstances, none of our contributors is paid, but instead submit their work to us free of charge. We don’t tell them what or how to write, and only copy-edit their columns for spelling, grammar, and clarity, if needed.
That said, we don’t tolerate libel, slander, or ad hominem attacks. If a columnist is reporting on a meeting or event, we expect accuracy, even as they in their depiction offer their opinion about outcomes or behaviors. The same is true for letters sent to us for publication in print or on our website. Although some digital media are open to anything, even purely nasty and untrue comments, we hold the line, insisting on shedding light not casting shade.
While The Sun is provided free of charge to the public we serve, producing it is not free. Printing costs have gone up while advertising revenue has declined. We do accept donations, and when received will even deliver the paper right to the door. After all these years, we’re proud of what we do and have done, and look forward to continuing for as long as we, and our columnists and staff, are able.
– Sun Editorial Board
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