The Lower Wisconsin River Valley Sentinel is your independent, local news source covering arts & culture, events, local meetings and our larger community.
In times like these, our community needs to come together. So, let’s build community together.
Covering Arena, Lone Rock, Plain, Spring Green and the surrounding areas of Sauk, Iowa and Richland counties in Wisconsin.
Started by some 20-somethings with backgrounds in journalism in October 2020, Valley Sentinel is seeking to change how community journalism is done with a hybrid model that focuses on community engagement.
We’re a group of passionate people sharing their time in the name of community. We’re a collective of journalists and aspiring journalists and graphic designers and such from around the Driftless Area and Wisconsin that believe in this community and its potential.
We have former managing editors, editors-in-chief, government reporters and more that wanted to get away from big, corporate journalism and try something else, try something new in journalism — a free newspaper during a pandemic (we must be crazy right? But we can’t think of a better time to help build community).
We’re primarily run by several young professionals trying to build a business that fosters community and create a life in a rural area that is in desperate need of workforce housing, employment opportunities and young family retention. We believe in celebrating both our rural Driftless identity and the arts & culture that makes our community so extraordinary.
We are committed to remaining a free publication in perpetuity with an accessible, hybrid model that allows anyone that wants to read local news to have access to it.
Valley Sentinel is all-volunteer, independently owned and operated by its editors and is a majority woman-owned business.
Are you local?
Yep! Specifically, we have interns that live in Spring Green and Arena, we have graphic artists going to school at UW Platteville, an editor that graduated from River Valley and another that covered Sauk and surrounding counties for several years. We’re in the community and always happy to talk, catch us running around delivering papers or covering stories. If you see us out in the community (you can usually tell by the press lanyards) please feel free to ask us to sit down for a cup of coffee in one of the area’s wonderful coffeeshops, we’d love to speak with you — and we’re always happy for the caffeine.
Why a free paper?
Papers obviously aren’t free to print. We literally liquidated what little retirement we had from corporate media jobs, along with some savings bonds (apparently those are still a thing) to start a community newspaper for less than $5,000 because we believe in this community and it’s potential. And that’s it — no investors, no big corporate backing, just lot’s of sweat equity.
We didn’t do it because we knew it would be easy, we knew it would be challenging and we’d need community support — and we can’t thank enough the warm and overwhelming community support we’ve gotten. We’re supported through advertising to keep the presses printing, so we thrive as the community thrives. Please frequent our local businesses and let them know you read Valley Sentinel each edition.
The papers are free because we believe in a model that strives to reach people wherever and however they like their news. We reject the failing, walled-garden subscription model of large, corporate newspapers. We believe that anyone who wants the news, should be able to get the news. We do not believe financial ability should be a barrier to reading local news.
Our papers are always free for single-copy pick up, although we offer subscriptions for those that want to have the paper mailed or delivered.
We believe it is the duty of any forward-thinking and dynamic community newspaper to assist in keeping its community informed and, to that end, to ensure that the news is available to all that seek it.
Community fueled and community focused. We only succeed if the community succeeds.
Why ‘We Care More’?
We chose to invest in the River Valley community because we believe in rural journalism and the positive force it can be, we believe in this community and the arts, creativity, business, agriculture and recreation that sustains it. We believe the slogan is a representation of that more than anything else. We should all strive to care more, give back and build community, especially in times like this.
Why do you print columns by Sen. Howard Marklein (or Rep. Dave Considine or Sen. Jon Erpenbach or Gov. Evers or ‘X politician’)?
We strive to give a wide variety of viewpoints and topics, which includes, for example, reporting on what State Senator Marklein (R-Spring Green) is involved with in the legislature and at times publishing columns submitted to us. You may not have voted for him or agree with his policies or you may be his biggest supporter, however, he is Spring Green’s hometown state senator, which necessitates news coverage. Like it or not, Marklein is our hometown state senator for the village we are published in, which comes with more coverage inherently, but also more scrutiny.
We do our best to ensure we publish these items when they have a strong community interest or effect. For every column or article you see published regarding Marklein (or ‘X politician’), there’s just as many or more we’ve chosen not to publish because we don’t believe they hold value to the community.
We try to regularly feature columns from all of the legislators that represent the Valley regardless of political affiliation, while avoiding columns from them that are strictly partisan and that don’t further solutions for our community. As often as we can, we try to feature opposing viewpoints.
How can you feature a story about ‘X’? Doesn’t the big corporate media entity that owns you find that controversial?
We recently received a comment that very warmly welcomed our Pride Month special edition, but was surprised that our corporate backers would allow such an edition. We received similar warm, but surprised comments on our Blaze Orange Board deer hunting special edition.
As we’ve said before elsewhere and we’ll say again, we have no corporate backers. We’re editor-owned, all-volunteer, with no corporate owners and no investors. Just us and lots of sweat equity.
We’re a completely independent news source. Again, we’ve worked in corporate media covering counties in Wisconsin for national corporations and saw many things that were done just plainly wrong, as we saw the news sources slipping away from their local communities.
If you think our newspaper looks good, thank our tireless and talented graphic designers. If you notice some spelling or similar errors, blame Adobe’s lack of a decently intuitive spell checker and our lack of adequate sleep in order to make this paper happen each edition.
We make editorial decisions with the community in mind, not the bottom line of any major corporation. The buck stops with us, we have no corporate overlords to answer to.
What does independent mean to you?
The textbook definition of independent media is “free of influence by government or corporate interests” — so, of course, that is what it means to us. But to us it also means: NO big corporate backers, NO corporate umbrella organizations, NO big money investors, NO larger media group to stifle editorial decisions, and so on. Just a handful of people with a dream to build community.
Are you a non-profit?
We’re not. That doesn’t mean we make a profit though. We’re all-volunteer, every dollar made is put right back into Valley Sentinel.
Many independent publications have been re-organizing as 501(c)(3) non-profits recently, and we’re watching them with interest to see if it’s a viable model and we encourage them to do what’s best for them.
However, federal Internal Revenue Code bars non-profit organizations from endorsing candidates for any political office. We believe it would be a disservice to the community to close that door as we may feel, from time-to-time, that it is in the best interest of the community to endorse candidates for political office where common sense and community values prevail.
Can I get an e-edition subscription? Can I gift a subscription?
Of course! Just shoot us an email after subscribing and let us know that you would prefer delivery electronically rather than a physical copy.
It’s a blessing and a curse to not own our own press and to print through a commercial printer. We don’t undertake the large costs of owning a press, but we don’t always get a say in when the paper gets printed. Sometimes the paper is printed late and we work until the early morning hours to make sure subscribers and businesses get the paper as soon as possible. We’re working with our volunteers here and the press we use to find solutions for the long term.
The other issue is the sheer amount of time required to distribute papers in four greater municipalities across three counties. We’re always looking for help distributing the paper!
Want to enjoy scenic drives and assist in connecting our businesses, subscribers and community? Whether for fun or for volunteer experience, just one village or all of them, we’d be happy to have you! Interested? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re also looking for help in other areas as well! Want to cover meetings? Contribute to arts & culture in the area? Know someone that’s going to school for graphic design? Send them this link: valleysentinelnews.com/opportunities
I have writing, reviews, art, etc. that I want to share with the community, are you accepting submissions?
Of course! We’d love to look at what you have for consideration in print and/or online. Send us an email and we’re happy to take a look. We’re always looking for community contributors.
Valley Sentinel is published in Spring Green, Wisconsin every other Thursday by Lower Wisconsin River Valley Sentinel, LLC. ISSN 2694-541X (print) — ISSN 2694-5401 (online)
Editorial: Editor-in-Chief: Nicole Aimone Managing Editor: Taylor Scott Legal Editor: Gary Ernest Grass, esq.
Contributors: Anna Stocks-Hess (Graphic Design/Pagination) Adeline Holte (Editorial/Journalism Intern) Julianna Williams (Graphic Design/Pagination Intern) Bill Gordon (Arts & Culture/Editorial) Alison Graves (Arts & Culture/Editorial) Jen Salt (Arts) Grace Vosen (Columns) Mike McDermott (Sports) Katie Green (Community/Opinion)
Our team will be growing and changing as we settle into publishing regularly, please stay in touch. Thank you to all of our contributors for believing in our community.
Valley Sentinel is a free, bi-weekly single-copy news publication, available on newsstands in the area. Covering Arena, Lone Rock, Plain, Spring Green and the surrounding areas in Sauk, Iowa and Richland counties.
Want the paper delivered to your home or business? Subscribe online at valleysentinelnews.com/subscribe or subscribe annually with your name, phone number, address and $30 sent to: Valley Sentinel, PO Box 144, Spring Green, WI 53588