Don Rogers: So far, so good?
May 3, 2018
We're two months in with the Truckee Sun, a finger snap.
Feedback so far suggests readers approve of a turn toward more genuinely local news, a greater effort to get in community announcements, and knowledge the paper and website won't cut out the lakeshore towns despite the name change.
Ah, the name change. Our ears remain perked for your thoughts on that. The new name came with the invitation to oversee the Sun. But we're far from wedded to the change, although I will say I've liked the community discussion. People care. That's huge, if sometimes uncomfortable.
We did a poll on the website, which showed overwhelming support for returning the name to Sierra Sun among the polltakers.
Some readers around Tahoe City and Kings Beach fretted the name change meant the Sun no longer would be covering their communities. We haven't stopped covering the lakeshore, although Truckee simply by size of the community naturally has taken larger share of attention through the years. Nothing new there.
Some Truckee readers frown on the Truckee Sun moniker as an abandonment of community history. No matter "Truckee" has a legitimate historical claim by having been part of the name in the deeper past than anyone today has lived here. Still, yes, I get the point.
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Mostly, though, what I hear is less about the name and far more about making the paper truly locally focused and compelling. Local meaning also the lakeshore around Kings Beach and Tahoe City.
If droves of disappointed readers and advertisers are leaving the Sun, well, I haven't seen that so far. The racks are emptying with the same number of papers printed as before, and so we're increasing rather dramatically to make sure everyone who wants a copy can get one. Actually, there might be a little more interest rather than less, going by our most tangible clue.
Businesswise, we've started OK, good even. That's saying something, all considered. News media on each side of the Sierra, and locally, are struggling, as you might know. Of course I would say this: They all need support, and frankly are worthy of it. The news about "fake news" itself is largely fake, a spin from the ultimate spinners.
Of course, the onus is on us to prove worthy of support from you. In the Sun's case, this means doing a better and better job of reporting on local stories, getting your contributions to community information and viewpoints into the paper and website, and generally having interesting, relevant information of interest to locals most definitely, but also the second-home owners and loyal visitors who come here, too.
There is a lot of interest in this region, and we want to get it right, focusing on the right things and covering it all in the right way. It's a high quest, no question.
We have had some encouragement, though it's early. Here's a representative quote I hope to see a lot more of in the weeks and months to come, sent to our editor, Brian Hamilton:
"Brian, I picked up the paper today and wow — it feels like a community paper again! Thanks for the great job you and your team are doing and the huge improvements you have made in such a short time. It's exciting and appreciated."
Yes, we get plenty of more … wary comments, too, as has always and will forevermore be the case with any news organization. We welcome those, too.
I do want to know what you think, how we can do better, where we've disappointed you.
And I'll keep a sharp ear out for your thoughts about that name.
Don Rogers is the publisher of the Truckee Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4299.