TO OUR READERS:
After months of consideration and discussions with readers about possible changes to The Press Democrat, the new format will debut in your newspaper on Wednesday.
Many of you took the time to participate in reader panels or give us details about your news preferences in a survey that brought in an astonishing 1,600 responses. You told us that the newspaper is a part of your daily ritual, a trusted information source and, above all, valued for its range and quality of local news.
To reflect that, we are reconfiguring the newspaper to put local news first — literally. It will be played with prominence on the front page and then continue in the first section of the newspaper, where you will also find state news . The second section will be dedicated to national and world news, because you told us that while you can get this news from other sources you do not want us to become a provincial newspaper that overlooks the larger global context. When important national and international news breaks, it will be reflected on the front page. The second section will showcase the rest of that news from the wider world, with a focus on analysis and perspective pieces that add dimension to the headlines. In the second section, there will be a consistent home for the features, advice columns and puzzles that now float throughout the paper — something else you told us you wanted. Finally, you made it clear that you valued favorite national columnists for providing points of view that transform mere news into a deeper understanding and so they will continue on our opinion pages.
As we position the newspaper for the future, we have made choices about the most important topics to cover and used your feedback to guide those decisions. We will be focusing on watchdog reporting that holds public officials and institutions accountable because you count on us to do this work. Sonoma County has a national reputation for food, wine and beer, and our coverage will reflect that standing. Our food coverage will bring you more voices, with an emphasis on convenience and reader involvement appealing to a broad range of palates and price ranges.
We are creating a new Outdoors section on Thursday since this topic emerged repeatedly as a hallmark of life here and content you want.
To help control costs and allow us to maintain and improve local content on other days, our Monday and Tuesday papers will be two sections. We will continue with a dedicated local business page during the week and a separate business section on Sundays. We will keep the Towns section, add more photography to the Sunday newspaper and continue robust coverage of local sports.
Change can be unsettling at first, particularly when it affects something you let into your home every day like your newspaper. We have done our best to make changes that reflect our community values, the thoughtful responses you provided and a distribution of resources that values strong journalism while putting local news first.
Catherine Barnett, Executive Editor