If you haven’t read Alex MacLean’s story about an 8-year-old Valley Springs boy who was critically injured in a collision that killed his mother, you missed a well-reported story of compassion and perseverance.

Or Guy McCarthy’s story about Murderers Gulch. It’s a deep dive in the history of one of the wildest of the wild Tuolumne County places.

And there’s a compassionate telling of a life lost too soon in Giuseppe Ricapito’s obituary of Kerri Francis McCluskey, a longtime and beloved counselor at Sonora Elementary.

Three very different stories with one thing in common: they were stories you couldn’t get anywhere other than your local newspaper.

We take great pride in the professional journalists who produce the newspaper for you, our readers. We take great pride in our history, one of the oldest continuously operated newspapers in California. We celebrate 165 years this year.

As we reported last week, our parent company has filed for bankruptcy. The newspaper business overall is in a period of disruption, and we have not been spared.

I could go down the list of all that has happened to the newspaper business through our own actions and through situations we could not predict or control. It has unfolded fairly quickly since the recession and the rise of social media and ads on the web, the past decade or so. And that’s not including the increase in the cost of production, especially paper.

Since our announcement, I’ve received many kind emails from readers about the importance of this newspaper in their daily life.

One writer said, “The Union Democrat is more important now than ever.”

Another: “A local paper adds strength to a community.”

And this: “As print media, it is also an important part of our functioning democracy. Justice will assure that these values and benefits will endure.”

Some have sent emails to their friends to encourage them to subscribe, an action I enthusiastically endorse.

Journalists generally are reluctant to brag about the work they do. Or to ask people to buy the paper or place an ad. But these are different times.

The newspaper I worked at before I came here, this week published the results of a two-year investigation of civil forfeiture and embedded in each story online was this: “These stories take time and money: support journalism where you live.” The link took readers to a list of stories in the series and information about the cost and a method to subscribe.

Stories you can’t get anyplace else. Stories that make a difference. That’s what local newspapers are all about. And, despite the price increases we’ve imposed in recent years, your daily newspaper is still a bargain.

Here at The Union Democrat, we’re working on a plan for the future. We’re setting a course so we can continue to be an important source of information in the Mother Lode.

I’ll report back once we have a firm plan in place.

But for now, this journalist is breaking with longstanding practice and suggesting as letter writers have, buy an ad, subscribe, help keep your local newspaper in business.

Lyn Riddle is editor of The Union Democrat.

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