ABOUT EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE & THE VIEJAS WILDFIRE/EMERGENCY ALERTS
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East County Magazine (www.EastCountyMagazine.org) is an award-winning nonpartisan community publication published by the Heartland Foundation, a dba of the nonprofit 501c3 Heartland Coalition. (note: Heartland Coalition has NO affiliation with the Heartland Institute in the midwest, which has a conflicting mission.) East County Magazine also founded and publish the Viejas Wildfire & Emergency Alerts, keeping people safe and informed throughout San DIego County.
Our mission is to provide in-depth news, views and events coverage for all areas east of I-15 in San Diego County, California, reflecting the broad diversity of people and issues in our region, particularly those under-represented in other media.
Launched in September 2008, our site now averages 5 million hits a month (per AW Web Stats) and an average of 50,000 to 100,000 new unique visitors a month (Google Analytics), making us the most widely read publication in East County and second most widely read news site in San Diego County. According to Alexa, which tracks website traffic, we now have more online readers than Voice of San Diego, CityBeat, KOGO, and all East County newspapers. Our traffic is on par with the North County Times and 10 News, our official news partner.
To date, ECM has won 56 major journalism awards. San Diego Press Club named East County Magazine the best general interest website in San Diego County for 2009. Our website was also named second best news site after the San Diego Union-Tribune. To date, ECM has won dozens of journalism prizes for investigative reporting, news, features, multi-cultural coverage, environmental reporting and more in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. We also received an investigative reporting award from Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ) San DIego chapter.
In 2012, we received the 2012 Media Award from the League of Women Voters, San Diego for our coverage of developers' efforts to abolish community planning groups.
ECM editor Miriam Raftery received SPJ's 2012 James Julian Memorial Award for best community series. The award was presented for Raftery's investigative reports which resulted in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) retracting its demand for local wildfire victims to return disaster funds.
In 2013, Raftery received two special awards from SPJ San Diego, includingd the Sol Price Award for Responsible Jouranlism and the James Julian Award for the second year in a row, both for her reporting on issues involving the Ocotillo wind energy project's impacts on residents and the environment. A judge in James Julian category remarked, "Hard-hitting and thorough, it's heartwarming to see this kind of old-fashioned investigative reporting still lives..." A judge in the Sol Price awards stated that our reported should be "commended," adding,, "It goes to show that even the greenest of projects can be an environmental hazard if not undertaken in good faith."
Then in 2014, we picked up an international award for our enviornmental reporting from the World Council for Nature in Spain.
We update news on our website daily and also send a weekly e-newsletter to subscribers with each week’s top news and events. In addition, we send out the Viejas Wildfire & Emergency Alerts to our subscribers for regional emergencies countywide. Subscriptions to our e-newsletter and wildfire/emergency alerts are free.
Our site includes many specialty sections and is ever-expanding. Special sections include Top News, Green Living, Tribal Views, Refugee Voices, Border issues, Wildfire News, Health, Product Recalls & Safety Warnings, Education, San Diego Bookshelf, Best of East County, Arts and Music, Festivals of the Month, Food, World Watch, Business and Labor, Homes, Sports, People Power, CrimeBeat, Politics (nonpartisan), and much more. We empower citizens to take action through our Citizens Action Center (which includes documents such as the Brown Act and a look-up feature to find one's elected officials), Sound Off (links to contact elected representatives), and Readers' Editorials sections. We further encourage reader participation through Video Adventures and Photos of the Week features and our active comments section on each story.
In our first few years, we have received broad community support, drawing praise and testimonials from a wide range of community leaders. We have also attracted many sponsors including: Aamco, Alpine Submarina, Antique Row Café, Cali Comfort Restaurant & Sports Bar, Candy Island, Chefs de Cuisine, Cowgirl Bling, Cuyamaca College, Dube Vineyards, Garden Fresh Grill, Gateway Recycling, Geebo, Glad Earth Foundation, Gloriosa Vineyards, Golden Artistry, Grossmont Hospital Foundation, Heartland Lions, Heritage of the Americans Museum, Hooleys Irish Pub, Jamul Restaurant, Jeremy's on the Hill, Julian Meadow View Inn, La Dulce Belladonna Spa & Salon, La Serenissima Winery, Lemon Grove Transmission, MAACO, Mission Trails Regional Park, Olaf Wieghorst Museum, O’Dunn Fine Art, Orfila Vineyards, Parkway Plaza, Perform Wall, Press Box Sports Lounge, Rancho San Diego-Jamul Chamber of Commerce, San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), San Diego Festival Strings, San Diego Foundation for Change, San Diego Padres, San Diego Youth & Community Services, San Pasqual Winery, Sea World, Silver Creek Fine Art & Framing, Spinners Fresh Mediterranean Salads & Grills, Sports Authority, St. Madeline Sophie’s Gallery, Sycuan Resort, Taste of Italy, Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College, Waterproof Case Company, Viejas Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, Viejas Fire, Vine Ripe Market, Yellow Book Road bookstore, Yellow Cab, Yogurt World, the YMCA, and Zeytoon's Restaurant.
In 2013, we launched the East County Magazine Live! radio show on FM 89.1 KNSJ radio, reaching listeners during prime-time drive-time across our region.
Long-term, we aspire to launch a sister website, East County Guide, which will be a trustworthy source of information for residents and visitors in our region with a goal toward supporting our local economy by encouraging people to buy local, shop local as well as visit our many beautiful natural attractions in our region that are under-represented in other media. The site will be written by travel writers and local residents, providing accurate, in-depth and unbiased information on our region.
We have also organized community events, such as SummerFest, Celebrate East County, Outstanding Citizen Awards, and On the Road with the East County Eater. We provide in-depth, nonpartisan information for voters as well as a Citizens Action Center to make it easy for readers to learn who their elected officials are and reach them via e-mail links and other contact information. We provide fact-checking on debates and interview all candidates running for key offices in our region.
Miriam Raftery, Editor and Founder – A 25-year journalist and editor, Miriam has received the American Society of Journalists & Authors’ national Arlene Award for community journalism. She has also received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, National Women’s Press Club, and top honors from San Diego Press Club including best of show, best investigative journalism, and best series for “Changing Face of East County” prior to founding ECM. She has covered major stories on topics including the California wildfires, Congressional and presidential elections, Hurricane Katrina, election integrity, health, real estate, and political corruption. She received nine more awards in 2009, all for stories published in ECM. Her works have appeared in many other national and regional news publications including Woman’s Day, Women’s e-News, RawStory,com, California Real Estate Journal, San Diego Union-Tribune, San Diego Home/Garden, Décor & Style, Home Magazine, Arizona Highways, Nutrition Business Journal, Environmental Business Journal, In Business, and Writer’s Digest. A former columnist and freelance writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune, she has also worked as an editor of a national nutrition journal and a literary magazine as well as senior national investigative reporter for RawStory.com. An East County native, she takes pride in exploring East County’s back roads and byways, leaving no stone unturned in the quest for news and feature stories.
Our team: ECM has published works by numerous award-winning writers and photographers including Jamie Reno, Nadin Abbott, E.A. Barrera, Ariele Brooke, Gayle Early, Richard Darvas, Ron Logan, Jeremy Los, Joseph Rocha, Miriam Raftery, and many others. Our team includes professional journalists as well as numerous community volunteers, college interns, and award-winning photographers and videographers.
Additional acknowledgments: Our team includes many other talented freelance writers, journalists, columnists, interns, and community volunteers. We are also grateful to the many professional photographers, citizens, community groups and emergency workers who provide photos to help make East County Magazine the most comprehensive media start-up in San Diego’s eastern region. In addition, we thank our talented webmaster, Mike Tentor at DiegoNet, as well as our many subscribers, donors, and community sponsors. Finally, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to Viejas Fire, Cal Fire, Heartland Fire, Incident Page Network, San Diego Sheriff’s Department, El Cajon Fire Department, La Mesa Fire Department, San Miguel Fire, and the many emergency responders and emergency reporting services that help support and provide content for our Viejas Wildfire & Emergency Alert Service.
ABOUT THE VIEJAS WILDFIRE & EMERGENCY ALERTS:
Many people are not aware that during a wildfire, phone lines and cell phone towers may burn down, but e-mail service may continue to be available. Our founder, Miriam Raftery, wrote a grant to establish ECM after receiving e-mails in the middle of the night from panic-stricken backcountry residents who had lost phone service during the Harris Fire and needed information on safe evacuation routes.
If you are not yet a subscriber, we invite you to sign up for our free services at www.eastcountymagazine.org-- before the next emergency strikes. Please also subscribe to receive our free weekly newsletter, the most comprehensive and timely source of news and events in our region. Sign up free at the top right side of our homepage. You can obtain free e-mail alerts of emergencies, a weekly newsletter with top news and events, get brief text alerts by following ViejasAlerts on Twitter and breaking news with EastCountyMag on Twitter. Finally, rest assured that we value your privacy, so we never share your contact information with anyone else.
East County Magazine was started with a small grant from San Diego Foundation for Change. We are now self-sustaining through a combination of readers' donations, community sponsors, other modest grant funds, and events.
Donations of all amounts are welcome! Just click the donate button at the top of our site and be sure to check off the East County Magazine option on our publisher, Heartland Foundation's list of options. Join the East County Club with a quarterly pledge of $25 or more ($100 a year) to become a member of our Editor's Club and receive discounts on East County Magazine events.
We also welcome your ideas and suggestions. After all, East County Magazine is your community media outlet!