SN&R’s 26th birthday

Jeff vonKaenel

This is a milestone week. It is the 45th annual Earth Day. It's the yearly 4/20 celebration. And it is the Sacramento News & Review's 26th anniversary.

Twenty-six years ago, the first issues of the SN&R hit the streets of Sacramento. It was a big day for us. Starting a newspaper is a little like having a baby. There is all the preparation, planning and anticipation of the birth. Then, delivery of the first issue. Then, the shocking realization that the real work is just beginning. In our case, we have to produce another little one every seven days. We have produced 1,358 SN&R issues since that first day.

Our first editor, current SN&R Editor-at-large Melinda Welsh, described our mission as “tough love for Sacramento.” Tough in that we would be willing to write critical stories or reviews. We would hold ourselves to a high standard. And most importantly, we would be willing to talk truth to power.

But with love. We did not and do not see ourselves as separate from the community. We live here. This is our town. We care deeply about the schools, the arts, the air, the transportation system and all of the hundreds of other things that make up a community. But most of all, we care about the 2 million people living here. Our hope is that in producing our paper each week, we can make the town, and people’s lives, better.

Forty-one years ago, I started my career in newspapers working for free at a small local alternative paper. I thought this was the best way that I could help change the world. In telling stories, newspapers help readers learn about their community. Our goal is to have a communitywide discussion within our pages. It is through hearing someone else’s story and being exposed to different points of view that we can see the connections between us all. And only then can we work together to make positive change.

It has been a wonderful 26 years. And the paper is doing well. Unlike other publications, we have not been decreasing our circulation. We are distributing more than 80,000 papers every week—and growing. According to an independent survey of local media, we have more than 300,000 regular readers.

I am very grateful for the people that I work with. In this space I cannot list them all. But each week we spotlight them in our masthead.

And I am very grateful for the businesses that have supported us over the last 26 years. Their ads have made the paper possible. And recently, medical marijuana has helped the paper survive, replacing advertising lost from local businesses hurt by the recession and business lost to Internet titans.

And I am particularly grateful to you, the readers of the paper. Twenty-six years ago, it was a total thrill for me to see someone reading our first issue. Today, I still get a thrill when I see someone turning the pages of our newest issue.

Thank you for reading.

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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.