The MGH Report

Michael G. Haran, Proprietor

KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON

Posted by on Dec 18, 2013


Commentary

Healdsburg Tribune

12/5/2013

After reading Rollie Atkinson’s editorial it got me thinking just how valuable the Tribune is to Healdsburg and I’m sure how the other Sonoma West Publishers’ weekly papers are to their communities.Healdsburg Tribune #1

Rollie did a good job of listing the paper’s features and their benefits. I had never before looked at ads as news but Rollie’s comment, “The butcher’s special at the grocery story is a big weekly headline for us,” caught my eye. The Big John’s Market back page ad is the first thing my wife looks at when the paper arrives at our house. I look at all the ads in the Business Directory to see who is still advertising and who is new to the section and doing what. I like to follow the activities of the business owners that I know.

I enjoy following the Healdsburg High’s sports teams especially the basketball teams. I play basketball on Saturday mornings at the high school gym which is monitored by Wayne Rudy for the Town’s Park and Rec Department. He is a long time junior high and high school basketball coach for both boys and girls and he regularly brings the younger kids to our pick-up games to play against the all-ages that play there. The kids I have gotten to know I follow their high school sports careers in the Tribune. The Saturday mornings are also an on-going mini reunion of sorts as many of the players that have graduated occasionally come back to play.

In an interview with the California Newspaper Publishers Association in 2012 Rollie said, “We have a very low turnover in most of our organization, except for our newsroom. Our wage level is terrible, but we do offer a great learning experience and lots of freedom to explore the craft and trade of writing and journalism. I think we’ve been very lucky to keep finding the level of talent we do.” When asked “What are some of the ways the industry can preserve newspapers in our communities?” he went on to say… cautiously (very cautiously) explore projects or relationships with civic journalists.”

When we moved here about eight years ago, I wrote my first Tribune Letter-to-the-Editor about little Christmas tree that would light up every night in a vineyard. I have since gone on to write commentary that has been published in not only the Tribune but also the Press Democrat and other publications. I have to say that the tribune has helped me, and others, become a commentary writers and “civic journalists.”

Now if you look at what is published every week in the Tribune such as public notices, obituaries, local news, what the town government is up to, event calendars, school-library-museum announcements, local columnists and editorials on local, state and national issues I too am amazed at what a bargain the paper is at 50 cents. I think it is quite easy to justify $1.00 a copy. I feel the real value is closer to $5.00 but unfortunately you wouldn’t sell many papers at that price.

The paper is not just a local resource. When I travel and stay in a new community the first thing I do is buy the local newspaper to get a lay of the land. Even though my stay will be short I can serendipitously immerse myself in local politics, culture and the business community. I’m sure many Healdsburg tourists have found their stay in our town more rewarding by picking up the Trib and reading it with their morning lattes.

This is some of what the Trib means to me. So in this Thanksgiving season we certainly should be thankful for having the Tribune and we have to support the local merchants that support our town newspaper. I’m sure Rollie is not getting rich running his little publishing empire but he is certainly making us the richer for having the Healdsburg Tribune.

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