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Mission Impossible?

Posted on June 3, 2024 by Sonoma Sun


Small town newspapers are failing all across America. The proliferation of online media has irrevocably altered the newspaper business, resulting in failure of small publications and accelerated industry consolidation into the hands of national and multi-national corporations. Nonetheless, we at the Sonoma Valley Sun newspaper are committed to succeed.

The Sonoma Valley Sun has been in continuous publication for more than 20 years, for the past decade under the ownership of editor/publisher Val Robichaud. Val died suddenly in February, and the survival of the paper was uncertain. Never a big money-making enterprise, the Sun provided a place for local volunteer writers to contribute their time and ideas, for nonprofits in our area to promote their mission, and for investigative reports on issues facing this community. Val, remarkably, did most everything else; with the help of graphic designer Barney LaHaye, he managed printing, distribution, writing, editing, ad sales, and invoicing. Going forward requires a different plan, however.

With the blessings of Val’s family, the Sonoma Valley Sun is now managed by four people instead of one. As editor, David Bolling, with nearly 40 years of newspaper and media experience; Larry Barnett, twice Sonoma’s Mayor and columnist in the paper for nearly 20 years; Anna Pier, veteran nonprofit executive, bilingual teacher, community leader and journalist with the Sun for twenty years; and Alyssa Conder, 20 year Boyes Hot Springs resident, Sun Arts Editor, and founder of Sonoma Valley Local. Barney LaHaye’s contribution over the years as designer of the print and online versions of the paper can not be overestimated; he remains helpful and it’s deeply appreciated. 

The Sonoma Valley Sun Newspaper is now operating as a nonprofit; we are fiscally sponsored by Inquiry Systems Inc., itself a non-profit, as a project until we obtain IRS approval of our own nonprofit status. This means we can continue our mission through contributions, sponsorships and advertising to support the cost of publication and other business expenses. It also means you can make a financial contribution to the Sun that’s tax deductible (but talk to your accountant for details!).

And what, exactly, is our mission? To continue to be what we’ve always been and improve upon it: a free, community-driven newspaper published the first and third Thursdays, incorporating varied community voices, and addressing an agenda of community concerns that will help shape public policy on a wide range of key issues and subjects. These include: preservation and future  of the former SDC property and other key Valley properties; housing and food insecurity, our schools, activities of local nonprofits and culture providers, and an assemblage of information, ideas and opinions reflecting all aspects of our iconic, unique community.

In this day and age, some would say trying to build the influence and value of a small town newspaper is “mission impossible.” We beg to differ. Since Val’s death we’ve been touched and heartened by an outpouring of support, appreciation and affection for the Sun. With eyes wide open, we propose to survive and thrive as a local, community-focused publication. 

In appreciation and respect for Val’s efforts, and those of our contributors, advertisers, and devoted readers, and because we believe local newspapers are vital to the health and welfare of a community, we say “help us keep the Sun shining!” Now tax deductible. Contribute at www.SonomaSun.com

Sonoma Valley Sun Editorial Board




Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA