This is the first week of the Donald Trump presidency. And it is the first week of enhanced environmental reporting in the Sacramento News & Review. This additional reporting on both local and national issues, which will run throughout 2017, is made possible by a generous contribution from Jim Seyman at Tower Cafe.
Over the next year, Jim will be giving us $1,000 a week in Tower Cafe gift certificates that the SN&R will sell on its Sweetdeals website. We will use the proceeds from these sales to increase our environmental reporting. The money will only be used for the additional reporting and the associated printing costs. It will not go toward SN&R overhead.
Our editor, Rachel Leibrock, says, “I’m excited and encouraged by SN&R’s partnership with Tower Cafe. To have a local business support our journalism means we can fund important environmental stories that will have an impact at the local, state and national level. In a time when the incoming president has threatened to diminish the rights and reach of journalists and journalism outlets, there’s no overstating how crucial this is.”
SN&R has total control over both the selection and content of the stories. Just as we don’t have any say in Tower Cafe’s awesome menu selection, Tower won’t have any influence over our story selection and content.
I first met Jim in 1990, when he told me how his restaurant would serve delicious meals and also make a real difference in the community. By bringing in art from around the world, by giving generously to various nonprofit groups, and by creating a beautiful garden oasis at the corner of Broadway and Land Park Drive, Jim has made Tower Cafe a special place. And, over the last 26 years, he has made Sacramento a better place.
After the election, Jim and I were having coffee at his restaurant talking about things. Food, income inequality and, of course, Trump. The future orange-haired leader of the free world had just announced that he intended to appoint a climate change denier to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Not good news.
Now, while Trump will in all likelihood be a disaster for the country and the world, this man-made disaster, like all natural disasters, is a wonderful source for news. The problem in today’s news business is that, while there are plenty of things to investigate and to write about, there is very little money to pay people to do the reporting. This is particularly true for the most-needed reporting on topics such as the environment, poverty, law enforcement, health care and education.
The News & Review is a free newspaper. We pay our bills with advertising. While we continue to have more than 300,000 Sacramento area residents reading the paper every month, it’s tough to cover the costs in the internet age. So we have been asking for help funding critical community journalism. Jim is helping us expand our environmental reporting. We are looking for other partners who would be interested in expanded coverage in other areas.
We were very grateful that so many people contributed to our legal defense fund against former Mayor Kevin Johnson. And we are very excited about our partnership with Tower Cafe. It seems that challenges and disasters can lead to innovation and new partnership.