The Vanguard has continued to play a critical role in bringing important community issues to light. Most recently we had the reader-submitted article on food sharing. Little did we realize the article on food sharing in Davis and the UC Davis students’ subsequent battle with the health department would resonate with our readers to the tune of thousands of views and 61 comments.
Last week, the story got picked up by CBS13 in Sacramento and this week by the Sacramento Bee. Both entities saw an interesting story that got vigorous community comment. The Bee notes, “The idea has already spawned lively debate in community websites such as People’s Vanguard of Davis…”
This is only the latest example of the influence of the Vanguard in our community and it follows on the heels of one of our biggest successes, breaking the story on the MRAP. Back in August, we published the story at 5 am. By noon the story was run in the Bee and, shortly thereafter, in papers like the New York Times.
Last week, there was a column in the Washington Post that noted that “The decline of local news is threatening citizen engagement.”
Danny Hayes, an associate professor of political science at George Washington University writes, “It’s easy to forget that perhaps an even more politically consequential shift in the media landscape is happening at the local level. New research by me and American University political science professor Jennifer Lawless suggests that the impoverishment of local political news in recent years is driving down citizen engagement.”
He adds, “Previous work has shown that the recent deaths of newspapers in big cities — such as Cincinnati, Denver and Seattle — have coincided with lower levels of civic participation. With fewer outlets providing public affairs information, voters appear less politically active.”
Our view, of course, is that the Vanguard can help be part of the antidote to this trend – we strive to have rigorous coverage of local issues and we are striving to continue to inspire spirited yet cordial discussion and community engagement on the issues.
We have set out a number of goals this year to this effect. One of them you are starting to see – we are working hard to get more voices involved. Right now that effort focuses on getting guest columnists, several of whom we have rolled out in the last few weeks.
The hope is that by covering more issues and having more voices, we can encourage more of our vast and growing audience to participate. We put out a list of topics but those are really to inspire the imagine – see here if you might be interested in writing for us.
At the same time we have to remind our readers over and over again – this is now a business. It is not free. We have overhead and we have payments that we need to make. Eventually, we would like to be able to hire an additional reporter or two to continue to expand our coverage.
In December, we did two things. We raised short-term money for a matching donation and we expanded our base of subscribers.
Both of these fundraising efforts are critically important. The short-term money that we raised enabled us to pay our bills. The on-going subscriber money enables us to have more certainty about future funds.
We had some hiccups with the site in the past few weeks that we need to pay for, and we have ongoing obligations.
So we would first like to thank all of those who gave donations and became subscribers in 2014.
We have two new goals. First, we need to raise $1500 in the next two weeks to meet current obligations. Second, we need to add to our subscriber base by 40 by the end of February to help ensure that we will continue to be able to operate.
Once again, all we ask is that our readers give what they can. $10 a month is not that much, but it ensures us that we can continue to operate.
To help out, please go to our secure donation site: https://secure.yourpatriot.com/ou/dpd/friends_of_the_vanguard/donate.aspx
Please be sure to click the “recurring” contribution at the bottom right to become a subscriber.
You can also become a subscriber by mailing a check payable to: Davis Vanguard, PO Box 4715, Davis, CA 95617. $120 a year makes you a subscriber. You can also do an annual recurring payment of $100 by going to the website and become a subscriber that way.
Thanks and we look forward to serving you and the Davis Community in 2015.
—David M. Greenwald