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Considering changes inside The Millerton News

The Millerton News Editorial

For nearly a century and a half, every week, loyal readers of The Millerton News have waited patiently for their subscription to be delivered to their mailbox so they can catch up on their local news. Others have picked up the latest copy of their community paper at the corner market or maybe at a nearby gas station. 

However you, our devoted readers, obtain The Millerton News (and hopefully The Lakeville Journal; as well as our Compass Arts & Entertainment section, which is currently printed inside our two newspapers; not to mention Tri-Corner Real Estate; along with our other special section publications like Towns and Villages, Holiday Gift Guide and others), we’re just grateful that you’ve continued to support our publications. Our small but dedicated staff spends countless hours working each week to bring you the most up-to-date, deeply researched and fact-based local news affecting your lives in and around New York’s Harlem Valley.

As you know, The Millerton News is an independently owned, community weekly newspaper covering Millerton, North East, Amenia, Pine Plains, Millbrook, Washington, Dover, Ancram, Copake and Hillsdale. For many years, generations even, we have identified the pages of our paper by the towns we cover: We have a Front Page, a Millerton Page, an Amenia Page, a Pine Plains Page and a Millbrook Page, not to mention a Sports Page, an Obituary Page and an Opinion Page, along with our Classifieds Page(s) and other special advertising pages some weeks. 

Sometimes, due to space limitations, an over run of obituaries and perhaps either an increase or a decrease in ad sales, we might have to combine pages. At other times, perhaps due to an unusually high number of specific stories, we might double up on certain pages. As news is always breaking, the page layout of our newspaper is fluid, which, we hope, most readers and advertisers understand.

That said, the editorial and production staff at The Millerton News are constantly working together to improve both content and design to make reading the newspaper easier for all — from the moment a pair of eyes first sets sight on the Front Page to the moment one’s fingers gently turn to the last page of newsprint.

A number of years ago, our sister paper, The Lakeville Journal, stopped defining its pages by towns and opted to instead define its pages under the headings of Our Towns, Our World and Our Schools; it also has an Opinion and Viewpoint Page as well as a Regional Page, and of course a Front Page, a Sports Page, an Obituary Page and often a Health Page. It’s a different approach, which gives the paper more flexibility in terms of its layout and coverage. 

What we’re wondering here at The Millerton News, is if you, our readers, would like to see your newspaper change its format so that instead of having its pages defined by the towns you live in, it is instead defined by subject matters — similar to The Lakeville Journal. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be done exactly the same way; we could have other page titles, like a government page, an education page, an events page, etc. 

If we did so, you would no longer see the paper divided into sections, town by town. One positive result would be that readers who look exclusively at news affecting only their hometowns would have the opportunity to learn more about news affecting their neighbors. The consequence could lead to enhanced awareness among residents and businesses throughout the region. 

However, we recognize that the sense of identity, the sense of value, the sense of ownership that people have about their hometowns could be lost if we stop identifying our pages specifically by the Harlem Valley towns we report on inside the pages of our newspaper. We also wonder if readers would find it confusing if we were to drop the town banners that define our pages and organize our articles in such a different manner. 

We also appreciate that in light of the global health crisis and all the havoc it’s created in our daily lives, right now might not be the appropriate time to create any further disruptions, however slight they may be. Our desire isn’t to make you work harder to find the stories you want to read. Scouring the pages of the paper to find your town’s news shouldn’t be the cause of one more added annoyance — and we certainly don’t want to be at the root of that frustration. 

However, we also don’t want to eschew change for change’s sake. If a new format would improve the paper — and your experience reading it — perhaps it’s worth exploring.

So we’re asking for you to weigh in. We realize that when we’ve made such requests in the past, the response has been less than robust — but if you would like to have a say in how the design of The Millerton News takes shape, this is your chance. Simply email editor@millertonnews.com with your thoughts. We’d really like to hear from you, because after all, The Millerton News is your hometown news.

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