For being the 10th-largest city in the United States, San Jose's local news offerings are startlingly sparse. In recent years, The Mercury News has reduced its staff reporters, even while buying out many of the surrounding community newspapers. Metro fills some of the holes in local coverage, but as a free weekly paper, its scope is limited. Online publications like Patch have struggled with readership, while TV news outlets spread their resources across the entire Bay Area. All of this leaves Silicon Valley residents with few opportunities to read about local politics, community issues, and other important news affecting their lives. In 2019, Josh Barousse and Ramona Giwargis set out to change the news landscape and launched the nonprofit news outlet, San José Spotlight.
San José Spotlight is a digital-only publication with a completely free website, no paywall, and no pop-up advertising. Funding comes from individual memberships, business partnerships, foundation grants, and special quarterly paid events that will feature educational opportunities, panel discussions, and community engagement. "For years, newspapers have relied on advertising to sustain themselves, but I personally feel that model is no longer working," Giwargis explains. "People just aren't buying print ads anymore; newspapers are reducing the size of the paper and the coverage, and yet they expect to be able to continue selling ads." She also adds, "Looking to other [nonprofit publications] that have cut out ads and are relying just on those revenue streams we've mentioned—they've been able to make it work."
In this episode, we discuss San José Spotlight's mission and the role it plays in our community.
Follow them at, San Jose Spotlight (https://sanjosespotlight.com/)
Instagram at SJSpotlight (https://www.instagram.com/sjspotlight/)
Read more our Ramona and Josh in our 2019 interview.
This episode's music in "Tang" by Chris Emond.
Follow Chris on Spotify, http://bit.ly/ChrisEmond Featured in issue 13.2 "Sight and Sound" 2021