Local publications see hope in future of journalism

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Nationwide, print media has declined in circulation and readership.

However, locally-owned publications continue to inform and educate the community.

WRESTLING WITH BUDGETS

Bruce Giudici is the editor of Connections newspaper, a free progressive tabloid published by Stockton’s Peace and Justice Network.

IN THE COMMUNITY: Roberto Radrigan, left, executive editor and Jess Cervantes publisher of Joaquin magazine. PHOTO BY SONYA HERRERA
IN THE COMMUNITY: Roberto Radrigan, left, executive editor and Jess Cervantes publisher of Joaquin magazine. PHOTO BY SONYA HERRERA

“Our total budget is maybe $30,000 for the whole thing, for the Center and the paper,” said Giudici. “That’s about the full wage of a minimum-wage person. 30,000 bucks isn’t even paperclips for a normal business.”

Giudici has run the paper since 1996.

Giudici saw a need for local, independent reporting during the James Rivera shooting in 2010.

“Every city should make certain that their policemen are not shooting first and asking questions later,” Giudici said. “And that’s the sort of thing that Connections should probably be covering, but we don’t have any paid reporters.”

Sam Matthews, former publisher of the Tracy Press, understands the importance of reporting local political news.
“I’m a big fan of doing a good job of covering public meetings … a lot of papers got away from that,” Matthews said The Tracy Press has been locally owned since it began in 1898, and was published by Matthews’ family from 1943 to 2012.

Matthews has seen many changes since he started running the paper in 1957.

“We had a complete distribution of the paper, free of charge,” said Matthews. “The good thing about complete distribution is everybody gets the paper, and you have heavy impact that way.”

However, the changing economy convinced current publishers Will Fleet and Ralph Alldredge to cut down to weekly distribution and begin charging 25 cents an issue.

DROP IN WORKFORCE

“It used to be that there was a lot of movement,” said Matthews. “Nowadays, there’s not that much movement, and it makes it tough.”

Marty Weybret, the publisher of the Lodi News-Sentinel, noted the decades-long drop in newspaper readership.

“Population has been accelerating, and newspaper circulation since the 1950s has failed to keep pace with that,” he said.

Richard Hanner, Sentinel newsroom editor and adjunct professor at Delta College, thinks that the rise of television may has prompted the decline.

“Voting has gone down, joining PTAs has gone down, reading a newspaper’s gone down,” he said. “One thing that has gone up, though, is watching television.”

Weybret thinks that Internet readers’  experience  is limited.     “You’re very narrowly focused on your search, your concern — and you don’t run into things you didn’t know you wanted to know,” he said.

EDUCATE, INFORM, MOTIVATE

“It is a lot of work for no money,” said Roberto Radrigan, executive editor of Joaquin magazine.

“And a lot of money for no money!” quipped Jess Cervantes, the publisher.

The two men laughed and continued discussing the state of their publication.

“We have a diverse [editorial] board, not just of Latinos, but of people who care about Latino issues,” Cervantes said. “My perspective is educate, inform, and motivate. That’s how it evolved, that’s where we are today.”

Joaquin focuses on global Latino issues, political analysis, and editorials.

“I distrust people,” said Radrigan. “I mean, one of the biggest lies of a politician who is on the campaign path, ‘I want to serve.’ Oh, give me a break!”

Cervantes laughed.

“I believe differently than he does,” he said. “What keeps me excited and motivated every election season is the new candidate, the one that wants to change the world.”

While Cervantes’ and Radrigan’s personal views tend to diverge, they agree the magazine’s only political goal is to inspire readers to become active.

“We want people to vote,” Radrigan said. “We don’t care how they vote.”

Hanner sees relevance in  local print media.

“We have to reinvent,” he said. “We have to keep journalism alive and a business model to support it.”