Editor’s note: Beyond the Thunderdome

Editor’s note: Beyond the Thunderdome

Michele Ellson
The Alamedan

A few weeks ago the head of Digital First Media – the private equity-backed company that owns the Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News and most of the other daily papers in the Bay Area – announced the company was shuttering Project Thunderdome, a 50-person outfit that provided business, technology, health and other news to dozens of the company’s papers across the country.

The closure was reportedly part of Digital First’s plan to cut $100 million in expenses, and it prompted media analyst Ken Doctor to speculate that the sale of the company’s media properties may not be too far behind.

Thunderdome’s short life and the planned cuts at newspapers that have already endured more than a decade of them exemplify the challenges of providing the news that people want and need at a time when revenues aren’t rising fast enough to cover the cost of providing it. Digital First has scored some noteworthy successes in attracting digital ad revenue. But those have clearly not been enough to meet the needs of the company’s owners.

The Alamedan’s primary mission is to fill the ever-larger gaps in local Alameda news coverage, and we’re slowly expanding what we offer to accomplish it. For two years I have volunteered basically full-time to run this site and write much of the news that’s provided here, because I believe that our community needs to be informed to be engaged, and to thrive.

Being local means we can be responsive to readers’ needs, and this month we’ve begun following up on story suggestions readers made during our inaugural office hours sessions (stay tuned for this month’s hours and location). We’re also offering more breaking news – something readers have been asking us to do – and are launching some new blogs in the coming weeks on health, family and relationships and Alameda’s storied Little League. And the November elections – for which we’re preparing expanded coverage – are closer than you think.

Dozens of Alamedans have shown their support for our mission by contributing to our work, and with their generous support we have been able to expand our coverage beyond the daily posts we offered when we launched the site in 2012. For us to continue – and hopefully, continue to expand – we’re going to need the support of many more.

You can show your support for locally produced, local news by making a one-time or monthly contribution online or by sending a check to our fiscal sponsor, Community Initiatives (with Alameda Community News Project in the register) at 354 Pine Street Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94104.

If you’re a business owner and would like to demonstrate your commitment to an informed and engaged community, you can sponsor The Alamedan.

This month, we’d like to offer our thanks to Tom Charron, Frank Martin and Dick Rudloff for their support. We hope you’ll join them on our supporters list.

Questions or suggestions can always be e-mailed to me at michele@thealamedan.org. Thank you for reading.