Community first: recapping 4 years

Thank you

Sometimes, looking around is better than looking back.
I’ve been with Sonoran News for 4 years now and I really can’t say there have been many surprises. I’ve been doing this for a long time and mid-size communities and circulations have been my publications of choice.

I was relatively new to the Cave Creek/Carefree area, but not Arizona and the valley — and I’m a horse guy, so what’s not to like. This place has history, some of it heated, but I’m half Irish, half Sicilian and maybe too old to duke it out on main street but I’m smart enough to not take sides if I don’t have a dog in the fight. Bottom line — anything that happened before I got here is “BT” — before Tom. Even the best of families have arguments at the dinner table.

In the meantime, as I went about my business of getting acquainted, locals have been very generous with their time and resources. I am not a political animal, as most have discovered. I cover the news. I try to relay the facts and not my opinion of them. Readers are free to take a fork in the road any old time. I am not the news, I am old school journalism swimming against the tide. Over a period of 4 years, I think it’s safe to say that both the mayor of Carefree and of Cave Creek have met me and most town council members from both towns know who I am — and I think we can safely say that, more often than not, I am not the smartest person in the room. Probably explains why we vote people into office — to look after our best interests.
People with credentials.
Imagine that.

I believe they all recognize that I focus on action items and expenditures that involve money and/or approval votes. In the time that I’ve attended meetings, I would say water, fire, General Plans, budgets, signage and Dark Skies have generated the largest crowds — and that’s not to discount other heated debates over commercial vs. residential zoning, noise, fireworks and other issues.
It all seems to track to growth pains while trying to maintain the lifestyle that attracted all of us to this area to begin with and I don’t feel the need to write 2000 words to recap every nuance of a meeting and inject my opinion — like my predecessor. If a person is exceptionally interested in every single word uttered at a town council meeting, I suggest they go to live streaming. One can watch an entire meeting, while sipping marqueritas out by the pool, should they choose to.

What I find most useful and educational are statements by opposing factions and by the governing bodies that ultimately make the decisions. That is how news is supposed to work. Hasn’t changed in my lifetime, so don’t let the noise and misdirection fool you.
I want to thank the admins over at CCUSD for being so accommodating as I settled in and developed communication paths with them, coaches, teachers, students, boosters and parents. I’ll give a special shout-out to Gina DeCarlo Brown, whose photography coverage has been exceptional.

Sonoran News supports our local law enforcement agencies and fire departments, along with Food Banks, the Museum and Library, Kiwanis, many non-profits and church groups and we try to maintain the heritage and rich history of this area that can be found at the new Visitor’s Bureau. We have rodeos, Bike Week, art walks….it’s like a trifecta of “Are they crazy????”…and yet, it works, which is a testament to the organizers and attendees alike.


Here’s the thing. I understand competition and I support free enterprise. Nothing new here. Basically, it always boils down to “here are the services we provide and here are our prices.”

There’s a formula for every industry and newspapers are not an exception. Meanwhile, it’s all about the numbers. For example:
I am a heavy user of the internet and actually enjoy Facebook and Twitter in a limited fashion. There are local groups that have Facebook or Twitter accounts that I find useful, entertaining and informative, particularly in real time scenarios. I belong to some groups and engage in Q&As when it seems appropriate. Let’s assume that 100 likes (insert your number here) on a post is considered pretty good. Well, Sonoran News reaches 36,000 readers per month, publishing in print twice per month and our rates are very competitive and affordable. That’s about as simple as I keep it. Some businesses have strong followings and savvy online skills. Sonoran News provides an opportunity to perhaps reach new customers. It’s not nuclear science.
It is mutually beneficial.

If you check out page 4 of this issue, you will see a section devoted to just “Food, Drinks & Entertainment.” The listings are FREE, so the price is right and it is readership valued as a service. If businesses have more they want to promote, that’s what paid ads are for and Sonoran News provides a wide range of sizes and prices to accommodate anyone’s budget.

These have been hard times for a year now and there does not seem to be a clear view of the pandemic ending any time soon — and yet, there are a multitude of examples of people helping each other cope, whether it’s personal or business. It has been and continues to be a community phenomenon.

The industry

There are reasons community newspapers continue to thrive and they are not shocking revelations: people love to read about their kids, their friends, their local events and everything a mid-sized population would suggest.

I had the good fortune of working with a lot of community papers back a few decades: Apache Sentinel, Mesa Tribune, Scottsdale Progress, Tempe Daily News, Deer Valley and Paradise Valley News, to name a few. Times have changed and not necessarily for the better.

The important things to note are these: Sonoran News may not have an enormous staff, but our offices are here in Cave Creek and this is where we pay our taxes. We make every effort to support local businesses and events and continue to keep lines of communication open. It is incumbent upon us to be watchdogs regarding governmental proceedings and inform the public accordingly and that is not without the possibility of heated debate.

But, there is one consistent attribute throughout Sonoran New’s 25 years of existence — it is a community publication and as such, it is your paper as much as it is anyone’s — a fact not to be taken lightly, especially in this day and age.

Tom Owens has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Penn State University and over 50 years of experience in the publishing industry. He can be reached at: