Elsewhere on this page, you’ll find a column by Sean Scully, editor of the Napa Valley Register, asking you to subscribe to the Register. Not the print copy, but the online version. He’s asking you to support local journalism, to become members of our enterprise … much like KQED, San Francisco’s public television and radio station, asks you to become its members, to help support programming.

Today, local journalism is more important than ever. And, it is harder for us to make a buck doing so.

It’s no secret that our business model has changed drastically. Print edition newspapers used to rely on a three-legged stool to make a profit and make ends meet. The legs were subscriptions, display advertising and classified advertising.

We still sell subscriptions, $52 a year for either the St. Helena Star or The Weekly Calistogan delivered to your mailbox, both in Napa County and anywhere else in the United States.

Buying a copy of the St. Helena Star or The Weekly Calistogan for $1 from a newsrack or from a local grocery store brings us some revenue each week, but you have to realize the $1 we charge for each paper is tiny. If you wanted to buy a cup of coffee to read with the Star or Calistogan, it would cost you $2 or $3 or more for the coffee. There’s something wrong with that equation.

Our advertising representatives, including Phil Marshall, who is in St. Helena and Calistoga on Thursdays, sell display advertising, for both the printed newspaper and our online websites.

Generally, the third leg of the stool – classified advertising — is missing, since most people who want to buy something and sell their unwanted goods use an online supplier, such as Craigslist.

I’m encouraging you to think of the Napa Valley Register family of newspapers not as print editions that come out once a day or once a week, but rather as an information source that’s available 24/7 on our websites. As an editor, I spend a tremendous amount of time planning and preparing each week’s print edition. Still, all of the news that’s in the newspaper is available online at our website, sthelenastar.com.

And, it’s available sooner, depending on when it gets done.

For example, I covered Calistoga’s Fourth of July parade, taking photos and interviewing people, asking them what the Fourth of July means to them. I got some pretty interesting answers and not one person said it was about hotdogs and barbecues. Thank goodness.

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The parade was from 11 a.m. to noon, and I had written a story and chosen a dozen photos by about 4 p.m. Shortly after that, it went online at napavalleyregister.com and weeklycalistogan.com.

The story and photos appeared in the Napa Valley Register on Friday, July 5, but wasn’t in print in The Weekly Calistogan until Thursday, July 11. It felt like old news by then … celebrating the Fourth of July seven days later.

The only way to get the St. Helena Star or The Weekly Calistogan online is to buy a digital subscription to the Napa Valley Register. They start at $5 a month and go up from there, depending on which package you purchase, which features you want and find useful. For details, you can read Scully’s column. To take action, call our circulation call center, 1-877-433-5056.

Local journalism

Today, more than ever, local journalism is necessary for the health of our democracy, whether it is in Calistoga or St. Helena or in our nation’s capital. As a nation, we depend on local reporters to tell us what’s going on … whether it is the closing of St. Helena’s Dean & DeLuca luxury grocery chain, the sale of the Napa Valley Fairgrounds, or the latest trade talks with China.

With so many newspapers closing, including the recent announcement about the Aug. 31 closing of the 100,000 circulation The Vindicator from Youngstown, Ohio, it is crucial for local readers to help support what we do.

Vindicator reporter Kalea Hall spoke about the closing, “I can’t explain how difficult it is to see this happen, but I understand given the conditions of the newspaper industry. I beg people to support local journalism. It’s essential to democracy. I only hope that someone, somewhere picks up the slack and continues to ask the hard questions like The Vindicator reporters did for years and get the news out there that people need to know.”

In June, The Vindicator celebrated its 150th anniversary. Its long-time owners could not find a buyer for the newspaper.

As an editor with more than 40 years of experience … mostly working for weekly newspapers … I hate to see newspapers close their doors, it tears at my heart. And it leaves a huge hole in the community.

I don’t want to see that happen in St. Helena, Calistoga or in the Napa Valley. Please support us and subscribe.

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St. Helena Star Editor

David Stoneberg is the editor of the St. Helena Star, an award-winning weekly newspaper. Prior to joining the Star in 2006, he worked for the Lake County Record-Bee, the Clear Lake Observer American, the Middletown Times Star, The Weekly Calistogan and st