Sonoma Valley newspaper war heats up

  • Sonoma Valley Sun and The Sonoma Index-Tribune

Newspapers may be going the way of the dinosaur, but you?d never know it in Sonoma Valley, where two community papers compete every week for readers and ads.

The Sonoma Index-Tribune has covered the valley for 130 years, under the same family?s ownership for most of that time.

But it faces a challenge from the upstart Sonoma Valley Sun, a free weekly launched in 2004.

Like many newspapers ? including The Press Democrat ? both papers are feeling the pinch of the economic downturn. The I-T has lost some subscribers and advertising is down, particularly in real estate.

Late last year, the I-T closed its commercial printing business, and it is now printed by The Press Democrat.

The Sun has problems too. The paper has laid off a chunk of its staff and this week reduced publication from two days a week to one.

Is Sonoma Valley big enough to support two newspapers?

?I don?t know if it?s big enough to support one,? joked I-T publisher Bill Lynch, whose great grandfather purchased the business in 1884.

Still, both newspapers vow to fight on.

?We want to continue serving our readers,? said Sun publisher Bill Hammett. ?The Sun is a very popular paper with a fresh outlook.?

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