Valuing focused community commentary

Published on June 14th, 2021

Regional publications are the conduit to share information with massive relevance, and their monthly arrival is highly anticipated. If you are local to print pubs such as 48° North, Latitude 38, Points East, SpinSheet, WindCheck, consider yourself lucky.

But sailing is not unique, and in this report about a small-town California newspaper, it is a reminder about the value of focused community commentary:

For 36 years, The Julian News has been keeping its subscribers in North County’s backcountry neighborhoods informed, entertained and united through wildfires, recessions, and political discord. But for the first time in nearly 17 years, issues of the weekly family-owned paper won’t arrive in customers’ mailboxes.

Longtime publisher, editor and chief photographer Michael Hart, 68, is in a tough battle with cancer. His wife and co-publisher, Michele Harvey, said he didn’t have the strength to sit at his desk this past week to get the latest issue to the printer. The couple are now looking for a buyer to step in and save the Julian News from closure. So far, there have been no takers.

“That paper is the glue that holds this town together,” said Pat Straube, who serves on the board of the Julian Chamber of Commerce. “It’s incredibly important to a small town that there’s some source you can go to and you can trust, and Michael is that someone.”

Hart and Harvey said that while the regional residents generally stick together through hardship, they don’t always agree.

“The whole idea is that it’s a community paper and that the community will basically provide the information. On the tough issues, yeah, I’ll usually take the lead and I write whatever needs to be written. But everybody is welcome to write whatever they want,” Hart said last year.

While the newspaper industry has been declining over the past decade, small community papers have been plucky survivors, filling a hometown niche that no news website can match.

If you are lucky enough to have a regional sailing publication, we encourage you to support them through ad dollars and content contribution. Help make them necessary because they are.

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