News

Publisher's Note: On the impact of journalism in our community

 

The value of a local newspaper is never more apparent than during an election year.

In late 2018, DanvilleSanRamon.com and its sister publication, the Pleasanton Weekly, hosted four candidate forums, reported on the campaigns, held interviews and wrote dozens of endorsements, and covered the results from the time the polls closed until the official results were in over a week later.

We continued our normal coverage of city council and school board meetings, crime, deaths, court cases and spent hours requesting public records in incidents that the public questioned, like the drowning of a high school freshman in Danville or the death of a Pleasanton man in police custody.

This is journalism. It's not sexy clickbait like speculating on which movie star is getting married or who posted what on social media, nor is it mindless entertainment like cat videos. It is a necessary service to the public -- an essential commodity, like water, schools and fire protection. But journalism is not a public service in the dictionary definition of the term because it is not provided or funded by a government or its agencies, for good (and obvious) reasons.

Some people seem to look at news as a public service because it's readily available. "Free" news, like what you find on Google, is not really free. It is Google aggregating stories produced by news organizations that employ journalists; Google reaps the revenue from advertisers and the news organizations pay the journalists.

There's no news flash here: Traditional news organizations are struggling financially and the first place many go to cut costs is the newsroom. This, in turn, is becoming costly to the public as this deficit leaves public agencies and local governments under-examined.

The number of journalists has decreased in double-digit percentages in the past decade. According to Occupational Employment Statistics data, nationwide there were 58,170 reporters in 2007. In 2017, there were 44,480, a decline of 23.5% In California, there were 6,210 reporters in 2007, and 3,960 in 2017, a drop of 36.2%.

The number of public relations positions, however, increased during that time period. Now in the U.S. there are 5.25 public relations specialists for each reporter; in California the ratio is 6.8 to 1.

So, in other words, in California there are seven people distributing information that reflects the subject matter in only a positive light, to the one person with the job to question and counter the claims in that information.

In 2012, Pew Research Center analyzed sources for presidential candidate information for that year's election and reported a "sharp rise in the influence of partisan voices, spin doctors and surrogates in shaping what the public is told about the biography and the character of the candidates," which the center's analysts connected to the "diminishing reportorial resources in newsrooms."

During the presidential race of 2016, the deteriorating state of media became more noticeable as credible organizations, weakened by years of newsroom layoffs, gave way to increased use by the public of unprofessional news sources such as hyper-partisan sites and stations and social media. Misinformation proliferated without ceasing.

The Tri-Valley's municipal elections of 2018 served as a local wake-up call about the importance of professional community journalists.

The social media platform NextDoor was used in the San Ramon race to launch smear campaigns against candidates who had little ability to counter the falsehoods with accurate information.

Also during the election, a local publication spent a huge amount of time and money creating "news" that reflected only one side of the argument -- the side the publication's owner wanted people to know.

Both are examples of why professional journalism is so important on a local level.

News organizations like DanvilleSanRamon.com are small businesses, with payroll, rent and utility bills like any other business. We have two sources of revenue: advertising and support from readers.

Support from readers comes in a few different forms. For example, readers can acknowledge our advertisers by mentioning they saw the ads on DanvilleSanRamon.com or in the Pleasanton Weekly, and by patronizing those businesses.

There is also our Support Local Journalism program.

A paid membership subscription, starting at $5 per month, entitles members to delivery of our weekly printed newspaper and unlimited 24/7 access to all our online content and archives. Subscribers are invited to members-only events, privy to "insider" information and eligible to claim tickets to the Alameda County Fair, the new movie theater in San Ramon, The Lot, and other special events and venues. Learn more at www.danvillesanramon.com/join.

As we start the new year, I encourage you to reflect on the impact of local journalism in your life.

Then please consider supporting us so we can maintain a strong news organization.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by David Ernest
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 4, 2019 at 7:18 am

David Ernest is a registered user.

Gina - A compelling story about the need to support local journalism. But - how do I sign up to pay my yearly fee of $5.00?

David Ernest


17 people like this
Posted by Danville
a resident of Danville
on Jan 4, 2019 at 8:42 am

This is Danville, where highly educated, bright, successful,conservative(for the Bay Area)residents with critical thinking analysis skills reside. Thus, when you cover a debate between two local candidates for public office, Catherine Baker(Rep) vs. Rebecca Bauer-Kahan(Dem), and a reader points out on your forum that Bauer-Kahan has actually lied on the ballot and in her campaign ads and bio about being an actual "Professor" at Santa Clara Law School, and ask you to follow up with her campaign and report on this, a truly independent and professional journalist would do so. Your publication just ignored this, with zero follow up, and zero reporting.

Anyone associated with a University knows the difference between being an actual "Professor", an honor bestowed by a University after years of teaching and publishing,or being a "Lecturer" or "Adjunct Professor" which applies to those who simply teach a part time class or seminar, like Intro to Legal Research & Writing. Bauer-Kahan has NEVER been a "Professor" at Santa Clara Law School. She lied on the actual ballot, and in her campaign ads, in order to obtain votes, and this was brought to your attention on your Town Square forum, with a request for you to do some actual journalism and follow up and report on this material lie. You never did. You ignored it.

It has widely been reported that a recent national poll found that over 93% of people in the media are registered as Democrats. It makes you wonder if it was the Republican in the local race who lied about her background, if you would have followed up and reported on this?

Journalist use to be widely respected, and truly independent people, only interested in the truth. Not anymore. Even at the local level, we see the bias, and liberal agenda being supported by the so called journalist.

Very sad.


4 people like this
Posted by Gina Channell, Publisher
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 4, 2019 at 12:09 pm

Gina Channell, Publisher is a registered user.

@David, Thank you for asking! We included the link -- Web Link -- in the story as well as here.


10 people like this
Posted by Malcolm Hex
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 7, 2019 at 11:35 pm

Now that California has a super majority of Democrats in both houses of the Legislature, good luck finding a “publication” worth reading in terms of critical content regarding state government - including this one.

Hell, former Excutive Editor, Jill Abramson - a liberal, at The NY Times just called out the rag for extreme bias towards the president.

Sadly, Journalism ain’t what is use to be. The so-called “journalists” have no one to blame but themselves. People are turned off.




4 people like this
Posted by Long Term Resident
a resident of Danville
on Jan 10, 2019 at 6:55 am

I agree with the previous comments. I am glad to see readers recognize today's "journalism" for what it is and vote with their feet. Most of the news outlets are more interested in selling news and their view than reporting the news factually.

I have had the good fortune of living in Europe and Asia. The news in those regions is much more global, factual, and interesting than that in this country where most all news sources are an arm of the DNC. The news outlets have made their bed and are now fightung for survival. Let's hope for significant disruptive technology as in other industries to move to a better system. RIP SF Comical, Washington Compost, New York Slime, etc.!!


2 people like this
Posted by Alias
a resident of Blackhawk
on Jan 10, 2019 at 9:37 am

"Danville" = "American," the guy who repeatedly made the same silly argument that his alter ego now complains about.

You lost. Go home.


8 people like this
Posted by WillyD
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 10, 2019 at 9:54 am

So what seems to be lost in the stream of discussion - the Pleasanton Weekly endorsed the Incumbent Catharine Baker (R) for Assembly. So much for the biased media and lack of journalistic integrity!

In addition, the editorial staff conducted candidate forums in four of the Tri-Valley cities and an Assembly Candidate forum. So, how many of those community forums did the participants in this discussion attend? First criteria to complain - participate and show up!


3 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of another community
on Jan 10, 2019 at 8:15 pm

@WillyD:

it is apparent you are lost in the stream of discussion!


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