s
s
Sections
Sections
Subscribe
You've read 5 of 15 free articles this month.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
You've read 10 of 15 free articles this month.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
You've read all of your free articles this month.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
We've got a special deal for readers like you.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
Thanks for reading! Why not subscribe?
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
Want to keep reading? Subscribe today!
Ooops! You're out of free articles. Starting at just 99 cents per month, you can keep reading all of our products and support local journalism.
Already a subscriber?

EDITOR: My wife and I have subscribed to The Press Democrat for many years. We chose the PD because of the editorial policy and contributors: a nice mixture of national, international and local news, vastly enriched by the contributions (both news and opinion) from the New York Times and Washington Post.

Watching carefully, I have not yet seen a big change in the paper since Halifax took over. However, I worry about what the future holds. ... Can you enlighten my wife and me concerning the direction of the paper?

CHARLES S. LITTLE

Petaluma

Dear Mr. Little,

Thank you for your note. It's this kind of encouragement that keeps us committed to doing what we do every day.

I understand your concern about the change in ownership. It seems to me that we may have left you and other readers hanging about what has been occurring internally at The Press Democrat.

First, let me assure you that we are all still here, and the changes, for the most part, have been minimal.

Here's what has transpired so far: Halifax Media Holdings LLC completed the $143 million deal to buy The Press Democrat and 15 other regional newspapers from the New York Times Co. on Jan. 6. Michael Redding, CEO of Halifax, followed up with a visit here on Jan. 16 during which he held a town hall-style meeting with all employees. In short, he assured us that the company was committed to community newspapers and had no plans to sell us. Moreover, he said he believed in leaving the decisions concerning news and editorials to the publishers and editors at the local level.

Since then, it's been a time of transition, filling out paperwork as we shift to new insurance plans, set up new flex spending accounts, adapt to new procedures, etc. In many ways, we're all starting anew, but, thankfully, we're not starting from scratch. Not everything has been perfect. But all things considered, the changes so far have been far less significant than some had feared.

But to get to the heart of your question, the reason you have not seen a big change in our newspaper is because there hasn't been one.

We've received no directives about a change in editorial policy, and I don't expect to get one anytime soon. I can't speak for the newsroom, but I'm certain that there's been no mandate concerning news coverage, either.

I recognize that has not stopped some in the community from interpreting things they see in the newspaper — usually content they dislike — as a direct result of the change in the ownership. But they're wrong.

It's also nothing new. Before this, some readers could only see our pages through the prism of our ownership by the New York Times. Nothing I said could persuade them that our editorial positions and our selection of columnists were not directed by someone in Midtown Manhattan.

The long and short of it is, it has been business as usual for us. That means we're continuing to write and publish content that some people like and some don't. It's the nature of what we do.

As for the editorial and opinion pages, we remain committed to creating a forum for the community to discuss the news of the day and to read perspectives from other parts of the nation and world. To that end, I see no change ahead in the mix of columnists — including those from the New York Times and the Washington Post — that we offer.

I also see no change in our editorial policy. I acknowledge that some may be disappointed by that. Some claim we're too liberal. Some contend we're too conservative. On some days, I've received accusations of both within the same hour — which suggests to me we're probably doing something right.

So what is our policy? I would say we are, first and foremost, local. We agree with the aphorism that potholes are nonpartisan. They just need filling. And when we endorse candidates, as we expect to do in elections later this year, we tend to look for those who are best prepared to address those kinds of basic community needs — regardless of whether they're Republican or Democrat.

That, in a nutshell, is where we are. And that is the direction of this newspaper — the same direction we've had for 155 years — to be the best source of news and opinion on the North Coast.

That being said, I can't tell you what the future holds. I, too, sometimes worry. While there are signs that our economy is improving and that newspapers, in particular, are starting to rebound, we're still not out of the woods. It's no secret that some of the biggest advertisers in local newspapers — the real estate, retail and auto industries — have been hit the hardest by the Great Recession. But many of those businesses are reinventing themselves and coming back, and so are we.

The successes we've had recently, from the launching of our Towns section on Sundays to the opening of our PD Media Lab, give me confidence. Meanwhile, our digital audience continues to grow as our online content at PressDemocrat.com continues to expand.

I cannot predict what will happen in the days to come. But what I feel confident in telling you is that the challenges we face today are not new to us. They are the same ones we faced before this change in ownership occurred, and they're ones we're continuing to address head-on. And any changes that may be ahead, for better or worse, are the kind we believe offer the best chance that we'll be around for a long time, serving those like yourself, who do more than just read us. You define us.

Stay in touch — and stay involved.

Paul Gullixson is editorial director for The Press Democrat. Email him at paul.gullixson@pressdemocrat.com.