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The Sacramento Union – which first began its independent brand of watchdog reporting in 1851 – is back.

Reopening as an online newssite and monthly magazine Friday, the Sacramento Union promises to “report, inform and educate with a worldview based on Truth,” according to its mission statement.

The Union was a daily presence in California for nearly 150 years, closing shop in 1994. Those involved in its rebirth hope to use the Internet to continue the paper’s tradition of investigative reporting.

The vision statement of the Union says: “We will remain faithful to the central role of a free press in a free society as a watchdog exposing government waste, fraud, corruption and abuse of power.”

Former Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian hailed the out-of-the-ashes rising of the Sacramento Union:

“Now, at a time when journalism seems to be overrun with … political activists, it’s time for all of us to embrace a new voice, which promises to get the news right and present an alternative editorial voice.”

Kaloogian notes a number of “legends in the news business” have hung their hat at the Union. In 1866, Samuel Clemens – better known as Mark Twain – was a correspondent for the paper. A bronze bust of Twain sits in the old offices of the Union in downtown Sacramento.

Joseph Farah, founder and editor of WorldNetDaily.com, was editor in chief of the Union from 1990 to 1992. He now sits on the advisory board of the new Sacramento Union.

“Serving as the editor in chief of the Sacramento Union for two years was one of the highlights of my newspaper career,” Farah said. “I was sad to leave, and sadder still to see it fold two years later. My hat is off to James Smith, the publisher who hired me and the man with the vision to bring back this grand journalistic institution to the new medium of the Internet. From Mark Twain to Herb Caen, there are few papers that have the legacy of the Sacramento Union, which was, when I served there, the oldest daily west of the Mississippi.”

Continued Farah: “We need more competition at the local level – particularly in strategic state capitals like Sacramento.”

Writing on the current website, which will dramatically expand Oct. 1, Kenneth E. Grubbs Jr., editor of the Union, stressed that the site and magazine embrace “a classical idea of the press as a check on government.”

Grubbs stated, “The Union is back because, frankly, so many Californians like you demand that kind of classical journalism. Too many reporters and editors confuse objectivity, long thought the lodestar of responsible journalism, with neutrality. They write as if human liberty itself can claim no more value than political interference with our lives.

“On this central question of human existence, just as when the Union campaigned more than a century and a half ago against slavery, we are not neutral. You could even say we are biased – biased in favor of freedom.”

Grubbs promises accuracy in reporting:

“You cannot make personal decisions, you cannot participate in your government, if you are deprived of accurate information. Our pledge to you is to report the news as accurately as possible. Our analysis and commentary will be shaped according to the utmost intellectual honesty.”

The new website will provide interactive opportunities for its online readers – “an attractive space for your thinking,” says Grubbs – where the public can debate ideas.

The Union’s new monthly magazine promises a “world-class look and feel” and will take a more in-depth look at the exclusive stories presented on the website.

“The Sacramento Union magazine will also include profiles on political figures and community personalities,” the website says. “Issues will be examined through investigative journalism and hard-hitting, balanced news stories.”

A subscription of twelve issues of the new magazine goes for $19.95, while a 36-issue subscription costs $39.95.

A quote from Twain is prominently featured on the Union’s website:

“… a man’s first duty is to his own conscience and honor; the party and country come second to that, and never first.”

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