Logbook: reflections on the first two months
I have pretty much sea legs under me as we approach my two-month milestone as editor of Lincoln County News. It helps if a more than competent crew keeps this vessel running smoothly week after week. You cannot take the helm of a ship with confidence – metaphorically or otherwise – without a skilled seaman so to speak, who knows his job and does it well and reliably.
Before continuing with this maritime analogy, I would like to thank Paula Roberts, Jill Rice, Charlotte Boynton, Maia Zewert, Kathy Lizotte, Evan Houk, Amber Clark, Bisi Cameron Yee and Nate Poole, the lead editor; editors Chris, John and Allan Roberts; and all the advertising, office and newsroom professionals who make The Lincoln County News thrive.
Much of my job so far has been learning the ropes of paper and the community as a whole. You might think that being a newspaper editor is basically the same from publication to publication. And in its AP style and kernel of news judging, it does.
But the Lincoln County News is different in some very special ways.
First, there are certain types of content that are inherited from a century of continuous publishing under the auspices of a single editorial family. That’s why, yes, we do share news from family reunions, follow-ups to firefighters’ fish fries, and five mile garage sales photo essays.
Such things cannot be considered news in other newspapers these days. And that’s a shame.
Because I believe news like this mean as much to a community as unfortunate difficult things.
I know you want to know more about the house fires and car crashes, staff shortages and business closures, why traffic was slowed down on Highway 1, why the power was cut for three hours in Bristol, etc.
But a community is more than its sorrows. There are joys too, and The Lincoln County News includes all kinds of celebrations, successes, and occasions.
Second, The Lincoln County News is a HUGE newspaper with a generous amount of pages, both in size and number, to really cover all aspects of the community.
For me, coming from a smaller newspaper, it took some getting used to. At Lincoln County News, we include almost any photo we want. We can let a story develop beyond the facts to the story and the context as well. The angles I had to cut can be explored here. Second sources? And five?
I like what I call “little stories”, the peculiarities of people and places that say, for example, This Is Bremen, or South Bristol, or Newcastle or…. There is plenty of room for everyone in The Lincoln County News.
It is a luxury of capturing stories that I have never known. It’s like stepping out of a rowboat going up the river and riding a schooner at full sail with the tide, current and wind in my favor.
It’s like a fairy tale, really. I have just enough imagination to support my commitment to community journalism. A little creativity goes a long way.
But I want to be clear that the reality for most 21st century newspapers involves challenges at every level, from selling enough advertising, to retaining staff, to the cost of newsprint, to circulation. and subscriptions.
The struggle is, as they say, very, very real. And yet, fortunately, there is still a variety of newspapers on the stands, and delivered to devices and doors.
What I learned the most in my first two months at Lincoln County News is how lucky I am to be in the wheelhouse of this strong ship, it is the community that is. luckiest of all.
Lincoln County has its own newspaper: all on deck and full steam ahead, seaworthy and loaded with history.