Happy Labor Day!
The Sebastopol Times is a new beginning for local news. In our fifth month, we now have 375 subscribers who receive our posts through email. Of those, 87 are paid subscribers who help to support this work. We are grateful to all of you.
Just a bit of background for those of you who might have just joined us. Our local paper, The Sonoma West Times and News, ceased publication in print about three years ago; it was followed by an online site. The parent company became a non-profit, Sonoma County Local News Initiative, and it operated the website SoCoNews.org and The Healdsburg Tribune in print. In April of this year, SoCoNews.org ceased its operations and The Healdsburg Tribune was sold to the publisher of The Bohemian.
Laura Hagar Rush and I decided that Sebastopol and the surrounding areas of West County needed its own local news publication, focusing on the City Council, the schools, businesses and non-profits in this area, as well as representing its unique culture and history. I knew something about Substack, a newsletter publishing platform that encourages writers to develop an audience of subscribers who value the work enough to pay for it. (In the past, advertising was the main source of revenue for local publishers.) We decided to try Substack for publishing local news that comes to you through email; (there’s also an app).
You might consider this effort a form of citizen journalism, even though Laura is a professional, having been editor of The Sonoma West Times and News. We do this each for our own reasons but on a volunteer basis. It is a labor of love. We hope that keeping people informed and connected to what’s happening will increase civic engagement and build a shared spirit that strengthens our community.
As you can see in the photo below from the current exhibit at the West County Museum, there have been various editions of The Sebastopol Times from 1895 to 1995. The Sebastopol Times has had a variety of owners and editors over time. It became the “Times and News” in 1987 after it was merged with The Russian River News. Then around 1995 Sonoma West replaced Sebastopol.
Fortunately, Laura grabbed the SebastopolTimes.com domain after it was allowed to lapse by its previous owner. We thought it fitting to bring back the name “The Sebastopol Times” and continue to build on a “newspaper” tradition but re-designed for delivery in a digital age. We are able to do things that we could not do in print — audio and video are part of the mix now. Yet asking good questions and listening to people while reporting fairly on what they say is still what local news is about.
We look forward to the fall with City Council and School Board elections. Starting Tuesday, we will publish the first in a series of profiles of candidates for Sebastopol City Council. Look for it in your email box!
Sebastopol Times is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support local news, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I am so happy to see the Sebastopol Times is back!! I have really missed local news, and I love that it is once again named the Sebastopol Times. Thank you for doing this for our community.
Thank you so much for doing what you're doing! Keeping up with the Time has always been part of living in Sebastopol and knowing what's going on!