No conflict

Jeff vonKaenel

As I write this column, we’re packing up boxes and
preparing to move to the News & Review’s new digs on Del Paso
Boulevard. We’ll miss the Midtown locale that’s been our
home for the past 15 years; it has been exciting watching it grow into
one of Sacramento’s most vibrant neighborhoods, even as
we’re growing as a newspaper. That said, we are very excited
about moving to our bigger, greener building in the Uptown Arts

For the News & Review, it’s a new beginning. We hope that
the added presence of some 60 employees on the boulevard will help
promote the ongoing revitalization of this northern Sacramento
community. We’ve converted a leaky, drafty, funky old supermarket
into a green, more energy-efficient newspaper office. We’ll own
the building outright, instead of having to pay rent, which will allow
us to devote more of our resources to journalism.

None of this would have been possible without a significant amount
of financial help from the city of Sacramento and the Sacramento
Housing and Redevelopment Agency. For more than a decade, the SHRA has
been redeveloping the Del Paso area, offering businesses financial
incentives to move there. In the News & Review’s case, we
received approximately $2 million in grants, loan guarantees and other
incentives from the city.

The payoff for the city comes in the form of increased sales and
property-tax revenue and the added incentive for more businesses to
follow the News & Review to Del Paso Boulevard.

Any business in the city is eligible to take advantage of these
incentives, but the News & Review isn’t just any business. We
are a newspaper that regularly reports on the city and on the SHRA.
With that in mind, the reader is justified in asking if our new
relationship with the city represents a potential conflict of

In short, no. Just as I believe that The Sacramento Bee can write
fairly about development, even though they have received hundreds of
millions of dollars in housing ads over the past few decades, I believe
that we can write fairly about the city and the SHRA, even after
receiving assistance from them.

In fact, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. If you
don’t believe me, feel free to call Kevin Johnson’s press
secretary and ask how he feels about our coverage.

During my 36 years as a newspaper publisher, there have been many
instances where regular advertisers have called me to complain about a
story and to cancel their advertising. Our business relationship with
the city is no different. Yes, it puts us in the position of writing
critically about people who’ve helped us financially.

That’s life in the newspaper business.

Our content is free, but not free to produce

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.