We started this online newspaper to fill what we see as an important gap in Mendocino news — with small budgets, print newspaper deadlines, and lack of local control, local news services are having a hard time adapting to the new reality of news created by the internet. We know this intimately because we all used to work at local papers, and radio stations. Though the internet has brought new challenges to news media, it’s also created a host of new opportunities. The instant nature of online news allows us to do breaking coverage of events as they happen, and unlimited space allows us to do in-depth coverage of county issues that can be hard to do with print deadlines. It also lets us provide supplementary documents, special videos of events, audio and continuing, updated coverage as news develops.
We think that the internet has created a great opportunity for local specific news to flourish, taking inspiration from the stellar journalism of our mentor site Redheaded Blackbelt — and we’d like to give it a shot in Mendo. That said, we’ve only been up and running since mid-September, and we’re sometimes still working out the kinks with our website and operations. But with your help, as readers, as members of the community, and hopefully subscribers, we think we can provide a valuable service to the county.
We don’t have a print version, largely because we think that the overhead from printing and delivery can better be spent on reporting, and so we can reach more readers. By spending less money per story, we think we can deliver stories from around the whole county, and invest more in our journalists. We also know that a website lets us reach more readers more quickly, and provide news to people in remote areas who may not be able to get a newspaper or internet service. Plus, being online allows us to be nimble and efficient, covering breaking news as it happens, and update stories as new information comes in. Our coverage of the Spyrock incident is a good example of this. While other papers had to wait a day or two to give an update, we had a reporter on the scene that day relaying the latest info. The same is true of incidents like fires and crashes, as our coverage of a fire north of Willits demonstrates.
Everyone on our staff has worked at other local papers in the county, most of which are owned by Digital First Media, a national newspaper chain based in Denver, the same company that owns most of the other papers in Northern California. Corporate cutbacks and out of state owners made working for DFM increasingly difficult, so we decided to start a locally-owned and independent news source that would be accountable directly to the community, both through membership and by running local ads.
Between the three of us we’ve worked for or been published by The Willits News, The Ukiah Daily Journal, The Willits Weekly, the Fort Bragg Advocate, the Anderson Valley Advertiser, The Eureka Times-Standard, KMUD, KZYX, The East Bay Express, The North Coast Journal, The Fader, Bloomberg Businessweek, Al Jazeera and CNN.
We think it’s important for people working in the industry and for the residents of the Emerald Triangle to have better information about our local economy, instead of making important decisions about the future of the county based on guesswork and speculation.
We believe that for too long the debate over marijuana has been framed with an “us vs. them” mentality on all sides. This hindered public debate, and as a result nuanced and complex issues, with multiple stakeholders and countless interests, were often discussed as a simplistic binary — either cannabis was the demon reefer, or it was the ganja savior. We want to talk about it plainly as a crop, a medicine, and an industry. Some kind of normalization of the cannabis industry is here to stay, and it constitutes the biggest part of our local economy.
If we were in Detroit we’d talk about cars, we’d talk about GM and Ford; if we were in Napa we’d talk wine. But we’re in Mendocino, and so we’re going to talk about weed. Coverage of the auto industry means talking about unions and strikes, corporate profits, about where new plants are to be built, air quality regulations, and bailouts. But it also means doing car reviews, talking about safety ratings, and covering a car show.
Cannabis has an equivalent to all these things, and we’d like to provide that kind of coverage, shining light on an industry that’s long been dark. That means talking about trimmer safety and wages, along with the profits of the old mom and pops. We want to get into the future of corporate cannabis, government regulations, as well as environmental problems. But we also want to talk about marketing, review different products, consumer safety protections, and cover the farmers markets and trade shows.