Julie Reeder, publisher of the Fallbrook/Bonsall Village News, had a decision to make Oct. 20, 2000.
A group of local weekly newspapers including the Rancho News had been purchased and assimilated into the daily Press Enterprise and southwest Riverside County had lost their community papers. The corporate management laid off the Rancho News staff.
Reeder raised some capital from her stockholders that October day and hired the laid-off Rancho News staff to start the Temecula/Murrieta Valley News. The first Valley News issue became available Oct. 6, 2000. The Nov. 29, 2019, edition is the 1,000th Valley News issue.
“We are excited to publish this, our 1,000 issue, of Valley News,” Reeder said. “While we are in a tumultuous industry, our team has grown to nearly 30 people. We have also lost several staff including an invaluable member of our family and the community, Paul Bandong in 2017.
We look forward to providing the same award-winning coverage we have always provided to the southwest Riverside County region.”
Providing news to the community was not a new situation for Reeder, who moved to Fallbrook in 1988. The Fallbrook Enterprise had been that town’s weekly paper for more than 80 years, but by 1997, it had common ownership with the North County Times and was consolidated into a zone of the suburban daily. Fallbrook’s merchants and residents weren’t happy about the loss of their community paper and turned to Reeder, who had founded a monthly current events publication in 1993. The first issue of the Fallbrook/Bonsall Village News was provided to the community Dec. 18, 1997.
Four of the original Village News staff members remained when the Temecula/Murrieta Valley News was founded: Reeder, advertising rep. Michele Howard, writer Joe Naiman and photographer Dick O’Brien. O’Brien died in 2010, although the other three original Village News staff members are still with Reeder Media.
Temecula is in a different county and a different California Interscholastic Federation section than Fallbrook, so there were few synergies, but the four staff members who had experience founding the Village News also used their experience in providing community news to Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Menifee and Wildomar.
“The Valley News is very thankful to be the local paper with the privilege of documenting the history of the Southwest Riverside County region,” Reeder said. “From covering new city incorporations, new schools, parks, hospitals, casino and winery openings and hundreds of nonprofits doing amazing work in the valley to new streets being built connecting new communities – which are some of the safest in the nation. We’ve enjoyed supporting the work happening in the local communities that are part of our coverage area along with photographing and covering every minute of it.”
Four members of the original Temecula/Murrieta Valley News staff are with the paper today. In addition to the three Village News carryovers, Tony Ault was one of the writers who made the transition from the Rancho News to the Valley News. Ault left the Valley News in 2003 but was brought back by current Valley News managing editor Kim Harris.
Reeder and Harris first met each other in 2014.
“I was truly excited to learn that there was an opening with Valley News and couldn’t apply for the position fast enough,” Harris said. “To be able to work for a news agency with such a solid reputation for fair and balanced news coverage and a well-respected publisher was an answer to my prayers. The award-winning staff here makes my job easy. I can’t say often enough how much I appreciate everything that each and every Valley News employee does to ensure our goal of providing the best news coverage in the valley. I am just so thankful to be part of such an amazing team.”
In 2016, the Valley News added the cities of Hemet and San Jacinto to its coverage area. In 2008 Anza Valley Outlook publisher Carl Long retired and Village News Inc. purchased that paper which covers Anza, Aguanga, Mountain Center and Sage.
Village News Inc. was reorganized as Reeder Media in 2015 to reflect the new opportunities offered by the company.
“We’ve seen it necessary to include digital agency marketing services over the last five years to help serve our business clients and we have also found it necessary, in order to survive to convert from a free product to a stronger paid product, even including some state and national news,” Reeder said. “This will take some time, but we are hopeful that the community will support us as we grow with the southwest Valley and continue to provide the hub of communication to hundreds of thousands of residents each month and to the rest of the world.”
“We’ve taken our job seriously while covering breaking news whether its fire, traffic or as a watchdog for city councils and my promise to our readers is that we will continue to do so for the next 1,000 issues,” Reeder said.
Joe Naiman can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.