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Ojai Valley News under new ownership

web HR Laura Ward 2 2021 053

Laura Rearwin Ward.

 

On this day, as the Ojai Valley News celebrates its 130th birthday, our flag flies under new ownership. This essential community resource has once again been passed along to a new steward — this time from Bob Daddi, of Downhome Publishing LLC, to Ojai Media LLC.

 

I am thrilled to inform you that a few local folks, Eric Shanks, Mark Sims and yours truly, who believe deeply in the value of preserving Ojai’s local professional news source, have assumed the mantle of our community’s 130-year-old journal of record, the Ojai Valley News and its quarterly magazine, Ojai Magazine.

In case you are not aware, buying a small local newspaper is not a fiscally sound investment, as evidenced by their dwindling numbers. One in five newspapers in the United States closed in the 15 years prior to 2019, and 90 more have closed during the pandemic. Our paper, too, has faced dire straits over the past 10 years, so careful creative management and vision, alongside an engaged community, will be the key to its longevity. I want to thank Mark and Eric, two philanthropic investors who join me in taking this risk during uncertain times. We share great affection for, and faith, that our community will continue to grow and support our award-winning coverage.

Continuing on as publisher, I will be responsible for the editorial and business operations of our print and online publications. Our current news and magazine teams will stay in place. But you will see changes. Our offices have moved into downtown Ojai at 206 N. Signal St., Suite G (near Wells Fargo Bank and Lo>e Social Cafe). Our offices are on the ground floor with ample parking, so please stop in and say hello.

Coming soon is an entirely rebuilt, replatformed news website: (www.ojaivalleynews.com), and progress will continue to be made on the archive digitization project. Our down-the-road vision includes a foundation to provide more reporting staff, education outreach and more.

Local newspapers are a rare and precious asset to a community in so many ways. As new owners, we don’t take our responsibility lightly. Our valley’s paper must be financially sustainable and accountable to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. Opinion will remain on the opinion pages and the views shared there will be diverse. Lively civilized conversation is welcomed. We accept submitted arts and entertainment content to promote local events and we will continue to introduce columnists, all carefully reviewed and edited day in and day out by our news editor.

If you have not yet discovered it, we support a huge community events online calendar that is shared by the Ojai Chamber of Commerce that will grow with the new website. Please take advantage of it now.

If you are questioning the effect social media is having on you, the fake accounts, the mob mentality, the fake news, I urge you to come home to the OVN. Give social media platforms a break and give your local Ojai Valley News platform a chance to do more than it ever has before. Together, we can expand reporting and conversation, growing every section of the paper — columns, business, lifestyle, history, society, environment, education, farming, humor, spirituality, astrology etc., and with our growth promote more local jobs in the process.

In my 20 years of Ojai life, bearing and raising children, working, playing, laughing, crying; and during three years as publisher of the newspaper and editor of the Ojai Magazine, my roots, investment and love for the Ojai Valley have grown deep. I stand in the place of not knowing what the future will bring, but considering myself fortunate to live in interesting times with an opportunity to report on them. Come what may, the people of our valley deserve a free press, the power to know, the ability to become better connected, and to have their history preserved through well told stories for another 130 years.

We, dear readers, are here, sharing this moment in time. We are a part of something together, and as an owner/publisher of the Ojai Valley News and editor of Ojai Magazine, I invite you to participate in your community’s newspaper and Ojai’s shared story. It’s how we gain a deeper understanding of who our neighbors are. With information, we gain the power to shape the place we want to live in. Our dedicated news and magazine teams are poised to write and produce the next few chapters in Ojai’s rich history with truth and passion. Thank you for being a part of your town’s newspaper. I look forward to what we can grow into … together.

Believer in local news, Laura Rearwin Ward, publisher

 

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