Local news coverage is imperative to the health of a community.
The business model started changing in the 1990s, though, quickly creating a vacuum in many areas. When the number of journalists locally and nationally was dwindling, San Ramon resident Rosalind "Roz" Rogoff saw this dearth of local news coverage and did something many couldn't -- or wouldn't.
In January 2002, "political differences" with the San Ramon City Council prompted Roz to start her own online news site, the San Ramon Observer.
Roz became a fixture at San Ramon City Council meetings, always in the front row and always wearing her hat, which became her trademark. She was not a trained journalist, just a citizen who cared about keeping her neighbors informed and the elected officials accountable.
Over the next seven years, Roz grew the San Ramon Observer's fan base and email list by providing accurate, balanced coverage of the City Council and other San Ramon issues, saving her opinions, appropriately, for the commentary page.
In 2009, Roz approached us with a proposal. She wanted the Observer to continue because it was providing an important service to the community, but she had spent seven years covering meetings, reporting, updating the site and sending emails, which is a lot of work without compensation.
We recognized the importance of Roz's contributions to the community and that she had built a credible site that people trusted. We also appreciated her connection to the community and ability to respectfully take swipes at elected officials and others, so we asked her to continue to write her commentaries on the Embarcadero Media site under the legacy name "San Ramon Observer."
Over the next six years, Roz continued to take jabs at the San Ramon City Council, and those jabs continued to hit the mark. With the new blog also appearing on the Pleasanton Weekly website, she took advantage of her ability to reach readers outside San Ramon and started voicing views on regional, state and national issues. She was very excited about Election 2016 and wrote often about local and national candidates.
Roz also has a knack for, and perhaps a love of, sparring with commenters, and frequently engages with them, calling them out when necessary -- but always respectfully.
Roz is officially "hanging up her hat," with her final blog posted in December.
The number of journalists continues to dwindle and we need citizens to step up and help. While creating a news site and covering meetings as Roz did is beyond the call of duty, actively engaging with your local newspaper is encouraged.
Our hats off to citizen (turned) journalist Roz Rogoff for her years of dedicated service.