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Don Rogers: New owner, new course, new publisher

You might have noticed an announcement in the paper a couple of weeks back about us being sold. Again. Fifty-four years with Swift Communications, then five months Ogden Newspapers, then — whoosh — a new owner June 1.

New owners bring new visions and new ways to their new holdings.

And so it goes with our new owners, who also own The Appeal-Democrat in Marysville-Yuba City among other papers across California, the country and a few in Canada.

One of the bigger changes is our associate publisher/advertising director, Julia Stidham, will be the publisher now, and I am returning to the newsroom as editor.

Julia is well suited to the job. This was plain to me when I began here as publisher in 2016. She has been the best of partners and peers throughout my tenure, which soon enough included the Sierra Sun in Truckee and the Tribune in South Lake Tahoe. (Ogden kept the lake papers.)

Community news media was plenty challenging before the pandemic came along, and we’d never have made it through all of it as well as we have without Julia helping guide our way through. Oh, and having more than our share of fun doing it.

Let’s just say no dull days in this work. I’d make a crack here about the famous Chinese curse, except that might be mistaken for a political jibe about the “flu.”

Our core focus remains the same, even as some names on the masthead change. We’re still the dominant local news organization serving a politically fractious yet neighborly community. We’re still the best connector between civic-minded readers most inclined to vote and buy local, and local businesses and other enterprises that need to reach these very people.

But no question, the pandemic and the ongoing societal transformation from the solid to the virtual have added disruption to our lives, and not only with how we get our news and views.

We’re all in the whitewater now. The difference in new owners might be best described as the shape of the boats they’ve built to navigate these rapids.


The rocks in the river with our new company poke up in the form of billing changes, the look of the website, most of our software and systems, and — oh! — moving much of our printing from Auburn to our new sister paper’s press in Marysville.

We know we’ll be asking for patience from advertisers and subscribers, as well as readers since we’re changing news systems and reorganizing the editorial effort, as well.

Let me turn to Julia here, since she puts it way better than I could have: “This is the same team for the most part, working to implement the new systems and make it as easy as possible on our readers and customers. It will not be seamless, but know that we are working hard to put new, better systems in place. We will have some bumps in the road.”

The same core group has held strong through the pandemic and our twists and turns before then, as well. And lately, we’ve managed through a lot of change.

More from Julia: “We have an amazing team to work through these changes with. So be nice to them as we put new systems in place and work to get the bugs out.”

I’ve got a fair amount of rust to go with those bugs. It’s been a minute since I last was the editor, back to 2007, almost a career on its own as I run out of fingers counting back.

But I’m fired up to relearn and to focus on what brought me to newspapers in the first place.

I know Julia is fired up for this new challenge, too. And that we’ll have our share of fun tackling it.

Don Rogers is the editor of The Union. He can be reached at drogers@theunion.com or 530-477-4299.


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