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Letter from the publisher

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Dear Readers,
Times are clearly changing for local news. One in five newspapers in the United States has gone out of business since 2004. Of those left, one in five is owned by GateHouse Media that recently gobbled Gannett (USA Today), which includes the Ventura County Star. There are now 19 counties out of 58 in California without newspapers. Fortunately, the Ojai Valley News is still local, independent and free to report on behalf of the people.
Dean Baquet, New York Timesʼ executive editor, recently called the death of local news “the greatest crisis in American journalism.”
A University of North Carolina study urges a concerted effort to counteract the dire trend of "the expanding news desert," sharing a searchable database of disappearing news sources at usnewsdeserts.com.
Penelope Muse Abernathy of the Knight Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy said, “The fate of communities and local news organizations is intrinsically linked — socially, politically and economically."
The Ojai Valley News provides high-quality local news reporting, safeguards our local democracy, offers critical information in times of crisis and spotlights community needs and local interests. We report as a watchdog for the people, shine light and hold to account our government, institutions, local agencies and businesses. We question authority, investigate and unpack the complex issues we face with unbiased reporting, preserve history, gather insight, encourage community conversations, promote arts and events, and remember our townspeople when they pass away. To get an idea of the depth and breadth of our coverage, we hope you enjoy our year in review this week and next.
As advertising plays a smaller role and public and philanthropic support a larger one, more of journalism’s future will depend on the public’s assessment of its contribution to democracy and their communities. Ojai is stronger because participation in local government and voter turnout are increased and property values are higher when residents have access to comprehensive local journalism.
“The stakes are high,” according to Poynter Institute for Media Studies. “Our sense of community and our trust in democracy at all levels suffer when journalism is lost or diminished. In an age of fake news and divisive politics, the fate of communities across the country — and of grass-roots democracy itself — is linked to the vitality of local journalism.”
Local independent news is not generated by the owner, its shareholders, a political party, a bot, or rumored from the blue glow of a Facebook troll cave. Ojai Valley News reporting is provided with integrity by professionals within our community. We are joined together by this valley. If you love Ojai, the free press, democracy and care to be connected to your community or its history, please subscribe to and support our town's trusted news source.
The Ojai Valley News is greater than the people involved in it. It belongs to our valley these past 129 years. It is my great honor to steer the Ojai Valley News into 2020. I’m proud of what our team has accomplished together this past year and thankful the community has shown its enthusiasm for a high-quality local news source to continue. Now let's get everybody on board!
Our goals for 2020 and beyond? Deliver more in-depth reporting and enhance our website and events calendar to improve user experience. We want to increase our circulation and community engagement, and provide greater support of community events and business.
What can you do? Support the Ojai Valley News by subscribing, buying a subscription for a neighbor, making a contribution. Any gift, large or small, will help us report even more news and update our website. Call us 805-646-1476 or log on to https://www.ojaivalleynews.com/contact-us/subscriptions.
Give me a call to chat about how you can help. Thank you and Happy New Year.
Your neighbor and believer in the news business,
Laura Rearwin Ward, publisher
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