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25 years: It’s been an honor to serve our communities

The Lakeville Journal Co. Editorial

If readers take note of a small item in last week’s column by Norma Bosworth, Turning Back The Pages, they will notice that I am celebrating the beginning of my tenure (this time around) at The Lakeville Journal. “This time around” refers to the fact that I spent a few years on the production side of the newspaper when it was being printed in Lakeville, in the early 1990s. Norma’s column notes my hiring as associate publisher in the 25-years-ago space.

Let’s consider those 25 years and the way in which the industry of newspapering has dramatically changed in that time frame. The odds were definitely against the survival of an independent and independently owned local news group during those years, when so many in the region were bought up by large conglomerates and underfunded or closed, even before the desperate financial challenges of more recent years. Yet here, miraculously, The Lakeville Journal and Millerton News still are. 

The Winsted Journal, which was begun by this company in 1996, was unfortunately shut down in 2017, after our trying to find every way we could to make it work financially. We still believe that Winsted is a community that should have its own newspaper, and wish Ralph Nader and Andy Thibault the best as they begin a new venture there. Here’s hoping the time is now right.

Some are thanking me for saving the two newspapers that remain for their communities, yet of course the truth is more complicated. Talk about a team effort. Every year the company had to be reevaluated to pull it along into the next year, acknowledging the extremely challenging finances and finding new ways to save money yet still pay our amazing staff enough to make it by in these expensive communities. It was kind of like a startup every year. So it took some creative thinking and action.

Luckily, our owners from 1995 to 2021, The Lakeville Journal Company LLC board of directors, were flexible and supportive of community journalism in a way that made our continuation possible. They believed in what we were doing, and we owe them the utmost gratitude for sticking with a losing, but vital, resource for the region. I will mention especially William E. Little, Jr., of Lakeville for keeping us afloat throughout that time, along with the late Whitney Ellsworth of Salisbury and the late Robert Estabrook of Lakeville. Such accomplished people, these and all on our board, who were so willing to give of themselves financially, intellectually and emotionally in order to help us maintain the service we provide for our readers.

Then, in 2019, when there was an urgent need to find another path for survival, our readers stepped up to support us going into 2020, a year that would become one of the most challenging of our long tenure due to the pandemic. If not for that support, these publications would not have made it. Then, receiving more and more votes of confidence and financial support from the community, we strove to achieve nonprofit status. Once this was done, our current Lakeville Journal Foundation board of directors energetically stepped forward to support us in the next phase of life for local journalism in the region.

I feel the utmost gratitude for all that support, and for the hard work of our stellar staff over the years. Now, looking forward to the next stage for The Lakeville Journal publications, I wish incoming CEO and Publisher Susan Hassler (see front page story) and all the new and ongoing staff the best, and continuing success in covering our vital towns in Connecticut and New York. It has been a lot of fun, as well as moving and enlightening, to take part in this local journalism project for 25 years. Here is wishing for all those with the company to enjoy learning about and writing about this unique part of the world.

— Janet Manko, publisher and editor in chief

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