David Lichtman is market president and publisher of the Sacramento Business Journal. (Photo by Fred Greaves)

An interview with David Lichtman, market president and publisher

Q&A by Kate Gonzales

Solving Sacramento, a journalism collaborative, launched in early 2022 with the goal of covering the region’s most pressing issues. Up first: the lack of affordable housing. The collaboration includes seven local media outlets, including the Sacramento Business Journal, and one civic-engagement organization. It is currently funded by the Solutions Journalism Network and fiscally sponsored by the Local Media Foundation.

The Sacramento Business Journal has been operating since 1985, serving as the go-to resource for business news and information for over 36 years. Its paid circulation of more than 10,000 comprises key business leaders and decision makers in the greater Sacramento region, with the goal to inform, educate and connect the region’s business community. Its website gets an average of 329,000 visits per month and over 800,000 page views per month.

Sacramento Business Journal Market President and Publisher David Lichtman tells us about his organization’s involvement in the collaborative.

Why are you in this collaborative?

Telling common stories through the multiple viewpoints of our individual outlets allows the stories to take on a dimension that no individual publication can achieve on their own. So when we talk about affordable housing through the business lens, it is: How does business relate? Our perspective is different from the perspective of the other publications that are part of the collaborative. When you put them together, you get a very big, global picture of the situation as opposed to just slices. 

What I like about the collaborative at this point is we have found a way to cover almost every major population segment that has a publication in our community. So we can cover similar topics with very different constituencies and expand the message across a much wider footprint than any of us can do alone. We’re not generalists, we’re all specialists. And I think specialty journalism is the future of where we’re going.

Why does coverage of affordable housing in Sacramento matter?

The most expensive thing in Sacramento right now — other than gasoline on a per-gallon basis — is housing. Affordable housing is one of the reasons we have such a homeless problem. There’s other issues, but affordability is a big part of it, and it’s very expensive to build housing in California for lots of reasons. From the business perspective, it’s very difficult, very cumbersome, very expensive with fees and permits and everything required. And how do you make it affordable then?

Why is a solutions journalism approach important to your work?

It’s a very small piece of what we do because we tend to focus more on the facts and the data and less about the solutions. Now that we are in the collaborative, we’re going to start to ask the question: How do we solve this? The approach is asking the people who are invested on a more regular basis for their viewpoints. 

What other innovative projects or collaborations is Sacramento Business Journal involved in?

We work with a lot of the nonprofits in the area, providing marketing resources, awareness and information so the community better understands what they do. But this is the biggest project we are doing at the moment. I’ve known all of the publishers for years on this collaborative, and to come together like this just makes sense.

Tell us about your role with Sacramento Business Journal.

As market president and publisher, my job is to oversee the entire operation of the Business Journal, just as a local CEO would do for any local organization. I have resources from our headquarters in Charlotte that allow me not to have to focus on certain business office things so I can spend more time in the community, more time with my team, and more time with clients helping them develop their marketing and branding business-awareness solutions through our products.

Tell us an interesting tidbit about your organization.

We are part of a 46-outlet collaboration of business journals all across America. We have the resources and the ability to tap into other markets that have similar situations and use that as a stepping stone to what we can uncover and research and report on here. So we may find a very interesting story in Baltimore that will resonate in Sacramento. We can use that as an opportunity to dive deeper as a news organization in Sacramento. Having that resource is something people don’t really know about the Sacramento Business Journal — we are part of a very big business news organization.