Despite the number of newspapers continuing to dwindle each year, Sonoma Media Investments, owner of several papers in the northern California region, has decided to complement one of its online publications with a print edition.
La Prensa Sonoma, which initially began as an online Spanish language news website last year, is now also being offered in the form of a free monthly print newspaper.
The publication is distributed on the last Tuesday of each month to approximately 20,000 households in predominantly Latino neighborhoods in Sonoma County. Another 10,000 copies are dispensed in high traffic public locations as well.
According to the latest census numbers, Latinos compose more than a quarter of the county’s population.
“Our printed edition newspaper targets a very specific Spanish-language audience living in the Southwest of Santa Rosa, and other cities in Sonoma County, such as areas in Sonoma, Windsor, Healdsburg and Cloverdale,” said La Prensa Sonoma editor Ricardo Ibarra. “Because of the low access to technology among some of the lower income Latino population, the distribution of our paper makes sure our readers are informed about local issues, which concerns all of Sonoma County’s residents.”
A portion of the stories in La Prensa Sonoma are written by reporters from The Press Democrat and then translated to Spanish, primarily with articles involving local issues. The remainder of the stories are written by Ibarra. In addition to community news, Ibarra said the print edition provides beneficial material for Latinos in the county, including information on becoming a U.S. citizen and obtaining a drivers license.
The first print issue, published this past September, left several organizations and public institutions so impressed that they requested to have a chunk of newspapers delivered to their offices. Copies can now be found at places like Santa Rosa Junior College, Sonoma County Library and Sonoma State University.
“Overall, I’d say we’ve had a warm welcoming through social media too, where readers have sent us pictures of them with the paper,” Ibarra said.
Meanwhile, online traffic to the paper’s website (laprensasonoma.com) has continued to grow every month since launching in October 2015. As of press time, the site averaged nearly 10,000 monthly unique visitors.
“The online version has helped to fill the information gap for the Spanish speaking community,” Ibarra said. “We have become, in a very short time, a trustful resource to understanding local issues, such as housing, rent control, immigration policies, minimum wages, business and also access to entertainment.”