The Local News is Dead, Long Live The Local News

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller.

The Yountvillian is the present-day news source for Yountville and the greater Napa Valley. Our purpose is to cultivate a connected community by giving more power to the community members. Community matters, especially in a small town like Yountville and through Napa County. Our community directly contributes to the quality of our daily lives as we elect local officials who are responsible for policies and regulations. We interact with businesses that provide us with our necessities, services, and entertainment. We join organizations that give us resources and networks while our schools educate our children and us. 

When a community thrives, the members thrive. That’s why we’re committed to bringing you the local news. We want to make it easier for you to connect with others and stay up to date with topics and issues that directly affect your quality of life, and just as importantly, we want you to join the conversation. 

Local news might appear like a widely provided service given its inherent value, but the reality is that community reporting has suffered dramatically over the last decade. Many local communities across the country now have no local news organizations reporting on community stories. The day and age of newspaper routes have been replaced with a new digital landscape. Many of us find our information by scrolling through social media or national publications instead of reading the local Sunday paper. The hard truth is many newspapers have struggled to adjust to this change as it requires a complete overhaul of the original business model. Statistics show that the country has lost over ¼ of its journalist, most reporting on local news since 2008, and more than 65 million Americans live in a county with one newspaper or less. In their place have come terms like “ghost papers” and “news deserts.” These terms describe the reality that many local communities across the country are without a local source of news, a reality that hurts the community’s health through the lack of reporting on your distinct local issues, concerns, and needs.  

This new digital landscape has posed more issues than just how information is best delivered; it changed how newspapers can source their income. Many newspapers once funded their operations through advertising in their weekly paper. Individuals or businesses would pay to have their services or information shared, which benefited both the paper and the business. We’ve all browsed the classified section before or even had an ad listed ourselves. Now, businesses primarily advertise through online sources like Facebook or Google Ads rather than printing. The pandemic exacerbated this further as many businesses cut back on their advertising altogether to save money. These changing times have caused many local newspapers to lose a significant amount of their income, like this Kansas newspaper that sent a warning to their community about the growing issue. Some even call the pandemic an extinction event for local reporting and journalism.

Many do not even notice when there is no reporting on community news. We don’t know what we don’t know. Local stories are too easily replaced by the provocative headlines from the larger organizations with the funds for expansive advertising and publicity. These circumstances present unique obstacles for small independent news organizations to survive, let alone compete for exposure. The result is more reporting on countrywide or statewide news rather than local stories and information. Let’s face it; the SF Chronicle doesn’t necessarily prioritize Yountville or Napa County businesses or economic recovery (unless it’s a particularly scandalous story). 

With all this being said, you might be thinking that we picked an interesting time to initiate The Yountvillian. We picked the best time. This changing landscape inspired our tagline: The Local News is Dead, Long Live The Local News! This seemingly contradicting statement comes from the old saying, “The Kind is Dead, Long Live the King!” which illustrates the cycle of change. Out with the old and in with the new(s), we’re changing how local news is reported in Yountville and the greater Napa Valley. We’re up for adapting to the changing times because one truth hasn’t changed. When a community has access to current and factual information about their local area, they can make better decisions for themselves and their families. Businesses are supported, public health and safety benefits, relevant issues gain exposure, and people are connected with resources. The people we know personally. Our families. Our friends. Our neighbors. 

Being informed is a way of taking action within your community. It’s a way of supporting yourself and your loved ones. We’re here to make that easier. The Yountvillian provides news conveniently through social media, our online website, and a weekly newsletter. You’ll find information about: 

Most importantly, we make it easy for you to voice your opinion. You have the ability to comment, engage, and be a part of the conversation with the information shared through The Yountvillian. We care as much about what you have to say as we do reporting the news in the first place. We have a strong Comments Policy in place to ensure all voices can be heard. That’s why we’re here, to cultivate a connected community at a time where it’s needed the most, and to cultivate change. 

And this is only the beginning. We are expanding our services to offer news reported in Spanish to reach our Latinx community and to reach underserved communities who are ultimately the ones who suffer the most from lack of access to information. The perfect example of this came from last year’s wildfire disaster. The Latino community in the region lacked information in a language they could understand to seek shelter, connect with family members, and find resources. By offering Spanish translation, we offer assistance to improve public health. More recently, we’ve seen the Latinx population receiving current information on vaccinations, an issue that we can directly help. On top of this, our team is growing to write more original content, engage community members, and cultivate more connections. A daily podcast is even in our future!

With all of these ambitious plans, you might be wondering how we are funded. It’s not through paid ads on our website or a subscription fee to our newsletter nor “deep pockets.” We run our operation solely off of community support (and enthusiasm for news). When you support The Yountvillian, we take a moment to recognize your contribution and make it clear what is being funded. Supporting The Yountvillian is directly supporting your community. Jeff Durham is Chief Newsman for The Yountvillian, and with over six years of experience on the Yountville Town Council, he is not only educated and integrated with the community but also dedicated to serving the Town that he has lived in for over 17 years. Our team is committed to bringing various voices to the discussion, making the conversation smarter for Yountville and the greater Napa Valley. Subscribe, like, follow, share, and join the conversation today. Be the most informed local you know. 

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