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The Lakeville Journal: 125 years

The Lakeville Journal Editorial

The Past

The first issue of The Lakeville Journal was published on Aug. 14 , 1897, by Col Card (click here to see an interactive file of the front page of that first edition and click here to view more pages from the first edition). Irving J. Keyes was the first editor, soon succeeded by B.D. Jones. At that time, the home for the newspaper was on Lakeville, Connecticut’s Main Street, across from the Holley Williams House and in the building occupied by Argazzi Art in 2021. 

This week, The Lakeville Journal enters its 125th year of operation as a local source for news. No matter the era, or the method of distribution, or the ownership, the mission for this newspaper remains the same. Our goal is to report the news of our communities accurately and fairly, fostering democracy and an atmosphere of open communication.

Since the purchase of The Millerton News in 1972, coverage has included New York’s Harlem Valley and Northeastern Dutchess County communities. Content includes government, education, health care, business, real estate, the environment, nature, culture, the arts, everything that affects the lives of all those who live in the region. Our location at Connecticut’s borders with New York and Massachusetts challenges our writers to give attention beyond our immediate area.

In 1998 a rudimentary website was launched. Since then, www.tricornernews.com has become an active and well-visited source of local news, using the original content from all our publications. Along with the two newspapers and the website, the monthly real estate tabloid TriCorner Real Estate and weekly Compass arts and entertainment, the company has a presence on Facebook and Instagram and publishes additional special sections over the course of the year.   

Our rural bucolic region has little in the way of commerce to drive advertising so there was need to adapt, shrink costs and find alternate revenue sources.  In 2017 the too-large building on Bissell Street in Lakeville was sold to Salisbury Bank and the office moved to a rental space on Route 7 in Falls Village. The Winsted Journal was discontinued in  2017, after 21 years of profitless publication.

Part of the challenge of having a small media company during the 1990s and 2000s was finding ways to avoid being taken over by a large corporate entity that would come in and cut publications back or shut them down. The Lakeville Journal Company LLC only managed to remain independent through the support and vision of its ownership from 1995 to the present, William E. Little Jr., A. Whitney Ellsworth and Robert Estabrook, together with the skill and talent of its staff.   


The Future

Now it is up to those who remain to value the legacy of the company and find ways to maintain its integrity.   

As income deteriorated over recent years, a membership model to receive support directly from readers was initiated in 2019, and the response was enormous and encouraging. More than the goal of $100,000 was raised. In 2020, with COVID-19 redefining life, the company applied for and received a PPP loan, converting it into a grant. Another PPP loan was obtained in 2021, and the hope is to also turn that into a grant. A new round of contributions from our readers was sought this year, and they responded generously, supporting the company with close to $100,000 despite their own challenges of living through a pandemic. 

Now, the company is pursuing conversion to a new business model. 

An application to the IRS was submitted in late July to become a nonprofit 501(c)3 entity. This conversion marks a new beginning in several ways.   Most obviously contributions now become tax deductible. We may now be eligible for grants. A new board is in formation with staggered and finite terms. The board will be geographically diverse and represent a variety of skills such as legal, journalism, technology, finance and fundraising. Above all, these will be our neighbors with deep interest and commitment to our communities. 

Much thought is being given to the scope of content, geographic reach and delivery method. Most significantly, as a not-for-profit we belong to the community. We will continue to earn our right to exist by the quality we deliver, which will be reflected in your contributions, advertising, subscriptions and single copy sales at stores. We will continue to welcome your comments and criticisms.

Without the support of our readers in the Tri-state region and beyond, this local news organization and The Lakeville Journal would not still be here after 125 years. Thanks to all who read these publications and remain so connected to them, in an era when disconnection seems to have become the norm. 

Our goal is to live up to the expectations of our readers and our communities, and to maintain a media company for local news that will continue long after our stewardship is over.

And remember, while this newspaper is 125 years old, like life, it’s new every week.

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