Don Rogers: ‘Truckee’ Sun: New Coke?
A new name partly out of the deep past for the Sun has not gone over well with readers along the North Shore.
We didn’t think it would.
It’s not that the Truckee Sun would stop covering lake community issues, as some fear. But we can’t be all things to all people all the time, winding up nothing for anyone. Not viably anyway.
In a way I’m grateful for the outcry, though. Readers still care. Now would you let your local business communities know they’d help themselves even more than the paper and news website by supporting the Sun enough to be able to cover more there?
That’s the issue at root. The news media are businesses themselves. And this is the fundamental measure of a paper, magazine, radio station, TV station, online-only news outlet.
Remember Facebook, Next Door and the like are not doing news themselves, just picking up the neighborhood grapevine and some original reports, along with the occasional propaganda posing as news. From Russians, apparently.
At least one reader in Truckee thinks we’ve broken something historically sacrosanct by changing the Sierra Sun name to the Truckee Sun. And other longtime readers have felt some chill in the breeze with recent changes, too.
We might quibble over whether “Sierra” has been part of the name for at least 100 years or “only” 50, but it’s been the Sierra Sun since Truckee had a population under 3,500 as recently as 1990. Now the town counts better than 16,000 residents, and neighborhoods outside town limits bump that up near 24,000. Many really are second-home people, I know, but it is undeniable how much Truckee has grown. Just look at downtown.
The Sun’s history does include “Truckee” in the name, maybe even longer than “Sierra,” though it’s hard to tell. The Truckee Tribune. The Truckee Republican. The Truckee Republican-Sun. I’ve known it in the 30 years I’ve been coming to Truckee as the Sierra Sun, though.
So I can understand the anchor theory here: Always been this way, always should be this way. Forget SEO advantages, forget naming the flagship community. Forget change, the one guarantee in all things.
The Truckee reader suggested a community vote on the name. I promised to monitor feedback. If the Truckee Sun is another New Coke, and we see a real groundswell of readers, advertisers and community leaders pining for the word “Sierra” vs., say, interest in the actual content of the paper, I can see changing back. The name change was all but decided before I was asked to help guide the Sun in addition to The Union, based in Grass Valley.
Whatever the name, the paper needs support, as all local businesses do. And it needs to prove worthy of support in the form of news, views and other information compelling enough to pick up whether online daily or in print as the traditional weekly the Sun was until relatively recently.
I suspect what we call it is secondary to what we get in it. If you prefer Moonshine Ink, KTKE, Tahoe Weekly or whathaveyou, that’s great. Just be sure to support them. They all are struggling, too.
This is a transformational time in American news media, small operations as well as large, the digital only ones even more than the traditional. The ones that do original reporting bear the cost aggregators, like Google and Facebook, escape. For now, anyway.
News media everywhere are not making changes to pile on profits, for the heck of it, or from some deep state conspiracy suffused with chem trails.
Everyone now is doing what they must. Believe me, the full name of the Sun is the least of it.
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.