Tipping Point

Sacramento must not repeat San Francisco’s mistakes. How our future depends on all of us

This column is about us and it’s about you.

Because together we will redefine what a community newspaper looks like.

Sacramento is in a renaissance. There are cranes in the downtown skyline, housing values are skyrocketing around the region and we have a new Michelin star-rated restaurant.

But there’s another side to that progress. Residents are getting priced out of their neighborhoods, our homeless population is at a record high and our commutes feel like Los Angeles on some days.

Can you imagine in this moment of incredible promise and challenge going without a daily newspaper to elevate our successes and to demand answers from our elected leaders? Without you, it could happen. It has happened elsewhere.

You’ve heard it before: The digital age has brought great advantages and great challenges.

It has allowed The Bee to grow the number of people who connect with local journalism. Unfortunately, the disruption of the digital age has had a significant impact on the business model for traditional media companies like ours. We must be as nimble as digital disruptors.

And we’re working on it. Over the past year, the number of readers who have digital-only subscriptions to The Bee has increased by more than 40 percent. That’s amazing. And we’re grateful for the support, as well as the longtime and considerable support of our print subscribers. At about 22,000 digital subscribers, we’re more than one-third of the way to supporting our news operation with digital subscriptions, which is our goal.

There are other ways you can partner with us to ensure Sacramento has this voice for generations. Attend community events we will hold over the next several months focusing on housing affordability, the emerging local art scene and how decisions at the Capitol impact our communities. There will be other partnership opportunities; more to come on this front soon.

You can also support and share our reporting. Earlier this month, The Bee launched a new initiative focused on telling the stories of our region’s evolution. We have formed a team of reporters and editors who will write weekly stories focused on the challenges and opportunities we have.

The series – called Tipping Point – kicked off with a story by The Bee’s schools and education accountability reporter Sawsan Morrar. Her story examined how open enrollment in the Sacramento City Unified School District created a system of haves and have-nots.

In the weeks ahead, we’ll have stories that include a deep analysis of a troubling trend found within Sacramento County’s bi-annual homeless count and a cautionary tale of what happens when our suburbs are ignored.

Another team of journalists will organize a series of community forums. We held the first Wednesday, when Bee columnist Marcos Breton and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg discussed homelessness. The forum was streamed live on our website, Facebook and Instagram.

As we begin this work, we’ll do more than just report. We will lead a community conversation about how we avoid the mistakes of San Francisco and Seattle, where progress for a few came at the expense of so many.

We will cover the changing demographics of our population and our diverse food, art and culture scenes. We will also remain rooted in our commitment to holding the powerful accountable. We will be your voice.

Why are we doing this? To earn your loyalty and to honor your investment in local news and a stronger city. It takes people and resources to produce investigative journalism, to be the only print media outlet in Sacramento that covers every Kings game - home and away - and to tell you the best spots in the region for sushi.

To make that possible, we need your support. If you haven’t already, consider buying a digital subscription. Sign up for one of our email newsletters on local news, the state Capitol, restaurants and sports. Tell a friend they should, too.

And when we get something wrong, tell me. When we get it right, I’d love to hear that, too. My email is rlillis@sacbee.com. My phone number is 916-321-1085.

We recognize that we must earn your investment. The Bee’s path to relevance and sustainability is directly tied to our dedication to Sacramento’s future.

Because this is our home, too.

Ryan Lillis is the assistant managing editor for local news for The Sacramento Bee.

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Ryan Lillis is the Assistant Managing Editor of The Sacramento Bee. He has been a journalist at The Bee since 2006 and previously covered crime, City Hall, wildfires and the Central Valley. A native of upstate New York, he is a graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Journalism.