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New look of Valley Roadrunner reflects new partnership



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February 21, 2014
The Valley Roadrunner is currently undergoing a redesign to improve the reader experience. This reflects not only a new look, but the expansion of local content and news coverage readers have requested, as well. The Roadrunner has started a partnership with the award-winning Fallbrook/Bonsalll Village News. Owner Eric Buskird said, "Our Hemet and Valley Center teams are excited about the opportunity to join up with Julie and her team. We are strong believers in community journalism."

Village News Publisher Julie Reeder reflected the same enthusiasm, saying, "We are excited to partner with our sister paper the Roadrunner. The economy has taken a toll on our companies locally, but we've survived and things are looking up. Together we are much stronger as independent local weeklies. Together we have many more resources to share, including local writers, correspondents to cover county issues, water, agriculture, and SANDAG. Together, Instead of 6 or 7 people to keep Valley Center informed, we now have a pool of 35. That's a significant jump in local available resources for Valley Center."

The Village News has earned more than 125 Society of Professional Journalists awards as well as dozens of awards from local organizations including the Fallbrook and Bonsall Chambers, Rotary, North County Fire Protection district – for coverage of Rice Fire – and the Village Association. The San Diego organization of ARC awarded Village News for its support of community organizations and Publisher Julie Reeder has been recognized as Woman of the Year by the California State Senate.

Reeder, with 20 years of experience, is taking over operations from Eric Buskirk. Buskirk purchased the struggling Roadrunner in November, 2012 with his company Verican. By utilizing staff he had for over 8 years in a Beijing office, his implementation of procedures and processes used by many successful 21st century newspapers, helped to turn the company around.

Verican, started by Buskirk in 2001, provides newspaper technology services to over 100 newspapers around the world offering video, classified services, apps, websites and e-newsletters, just to name a few. But, due to a stagnant growth in media freedoms, the Beijing, China office shut down in December of last year, Buskirk said.

"When we started our Beijing office China was opening up to a free press," said Buskirk. "That has since changed. We weren't comfortable with the recent change in direction from the Chinese government and felt it necessary to shut those operations down. This recent change is just another step closer to rebuilding the Valley Center paper and making it a stronger local product."

Buskirk has stepped away from publishing the Roadrunner and is now focusing on finances and digital services for the larger newspaper group, turning day-to-day operations over to Reeder and Editor Kim Harris.

According to Reeder, the Roadrunner will be looking over the next few weeks for more writers, photographers and possibly marketing people to help grow the paper.

"We definitely want Valley Center people, wherever possible, writing, editing, photographing, providing video and also helping local businesses with video commercials, websites, apps, business cards, etcetera," Reeder said. "We're here to build up the Valley Center community and make it stronger by keeping residents informed on local issues and supporting the local businesses."

Roadrunner Editor Kim Harris said she is excited about the merger and believes the new partnership will benefit Valley Center's oldest newspaper in many ways.

"Becoming partners with Julie Reeder who has so much experience in the publishing business, and her extremely talented staff, opens up doors for the Roadrunner to provide the complete coverage that Valley Center residents have been longing for," said Harris. "Having staff available to us to add news from the county level that affects our residents is a big bonus and will only serve to make our paper more valuable than ever."

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