Goodbye, Millerton News office, it’s been great
There’s no question about it, it’s been a good run. But after 15 years, The Millerton News has made the tough decision to shut the doors to its physical office space at 16 Century Blvd. in the village of Millerton and operate completely remotely. But don’t be alarmed — the newspaper itself is not going anywhere.
The decision came about after the newspaper’s office closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, for what we believed was only a temporary basis, out of an abundance of caution to protect our small staff, our deliverymen, as well as those in the community who would oftentimes stop by to purchase a copy of the newspaper or perhaps pay for a classified ad or an obituary, as well as our many sources who would come by to be interviewed or photographed. And then, of course, there are those in the community who would stop by just to shoot the breeze. We will miss each and every one of you greatly, but as all of our readers must realize, times have changed — dramatically.
As of this issue’s printing, on Tuesday, Aug. 18, COVID-19 has killed more than 778,363 worldwide. It’s infected more than 5,613,357 in the U.S. alone, and promises to infect many millions more as time marches on, guaranteed.
In March, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued the New York State on PAUSE Executive Order that shut down nonessential businesses, schools and social gatherings. The news media was not among those, thankfully, as it is considered an essential business. Yet The Lakeville Journal Co., which owns The Millerton News, along with the company’s editorial staff, wisely decided it was in everyone’s best interest to send workers home where they could safely do their job and continue to remotely produce both the Millerton and Lakeville papers at the same high quality without putting anyone’s health at risk. And that is exactly what we have been doing for the past six months. Successfully so, we believe.
The Millerton News has continued to streamline its process since the pandemic hit. Operating with one full-time reporter, Kaitlin Lyle; one part-time reporter, Judith O’Hara Balfe; one part-time volunteer freelance reporter, Carol Kneeland; and myself, full-time Editor Whitney Joseph; along with Publisher and Editor in Chief Janet Manko; Production Coordinator James H. Clark; and Graphic Designer Caitlin Hanlon, all three of whom operate out of The Lakeville Journal headquarters during normal times, it’s managed to consistently produce the same award-winning quality local community newspaper Harlem Valley readers have come to rely on week to week. For that we are especially grateful. Sadly, we had to let long-time Office Manager Betty Abrams go, as I was able to absorb her job duties, though she was kept on the payroll during the six-month temporary closure. Betty will be greatly missed and will hopefully return on an as-needed basis when available.
Technology is such that composing a newspaper remotely is entirely possible these days. Cell phones, Zoom meetings, the internet, not to mention good old-fashioned reporting — it all allows us to follow and investigate the news and then design, lay out and publish a paper in real time from pretty much anywhere.
As our readers are well aware, it’s not been easy for our small, independent community newspaper company to survive. Just last year we had to switch to a new membership model and ask for financial support, which we so gratefully and humbly received and without which we wouldn’t be here now. Finances, as well as safety concerns, were just as much a part of our decision to close the Millerton office as anything. It is the economic reality: We are able to save on rent, insurance, salary, etc., without a physical office. That money can go back into the company for its future survival, where it is sorely needed.
The Millerton News isn’t the only newspaper to leave behind its brick and mortar office space so its staff can work remotely these days. Other newspapers — major newspapers — are doing the same. Just last week, on Thursday, Aug. 13, The Daily News announced its closing its legendary New York City newsroom. It was once the largest circulation newspaper in the nation. The Chicago newspaper chain that has owned The News since 2017, the Tribune, announced that same day its closing four of its other newspapers’ offices as well. With there being so many unknowns associated with the coronavirus, with the state of the economy and with the state of public health, we wouldn’t be at all surprised if such newsroom closures become a trend in the future.
To reach The Millerton News, continue to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860-435-9873, ext. 608. Send mail to The Millerton News, P.O. Box 625, Millerton, NY 12546.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Editor, The Millerton News