I’ve just about got my sea legs under me as we approach my two-month milestone as editor of The Lincoln County News. It helps that a more than capable crew sees to the running of this ship week in and week out. One cannot take over the helm of any vessel with confidence — metaphorically or otherwise — without able seaman so to speak, who know their jobs and do them well and reliably.
Before I continue this seafaring analogy, I offer many thanks to Paula Roberts, Jill Rice, Charlotte Boynton, Maia Zewert, Kathy Lizotte, Evan Houk, Amber Clark, Bisi Cameron Yee, and Nate Poole, the core editorial staff; publishers Chris, John, and Allan Roberts; and all the advertising, office, and pressroom professionals that make The Lincoln County News thrive.
Much of my work so far has been learning the ropes both of the paper and of the larger community. You might think being a newspaper editor is basically the same from publication to publication. And at its AP Style and sound news judgment core, it is.
But The Lincoln County News is different in some very special ways.
First, there are some types of content carried over from a century of continuous publication under the auspices of a single publishing family. That’s why, yes, we do share news of family reunions, follow-ups of fire department fish fries, and photo essays of five-mile yard sales.
Such things may not be considered news in other papers these days. And that’s too bad.
Because I believe that news like this matters to a community every bit as much as the unfortunate hard stuff.
I know you want to know about house fires and car crashes and staff shortages and business closings, why traffic was snarled up on Route 1, why the power was out for three hours in Bristol, and so on.
But a community is so much more than its sorrows. There are joys, as well, and The Lincoln County News includes all manner of celebrations, successes, and occasions.
Second, The Lincoln County News is a HUGE paper with a generous amount of pages, both in size and number, to truly cover all aspects of the community.
For me, coming from a smaller paper, it’s taken some getting used to. At The Lincoln County News, we get to include almost all the pictures we want. We can let a story develop beyond just the facts to the history and context, too. Angles I used to have to cut can be explored here. Second sources? How about five?
I love what I call the “little stories,” peculiarities of people and place that say, for example, This Is Bremen, or South Bristol, or Newcastle or … . There’s plenty of room for all of them in The Lincoln County News.
This is a luxury of story catching I’ve never known. It is like stepping out of a rowboat pulling upriver and onto a schooner at full-sail with tide, current, and wind at my favor.
It’s like a fairy tale, really. I have just enough imagination to buoy my commitment to community journalism. A little creative thinking goes a long way.
But I want to be clear that the reality for most newspapers in the 21st century means challenges at every level, from selling enough advertising to retaining sufficient staff to the cost of newsprint to circulation and subscriptions.
The struggle is, as we say, very, very real. And yet thankfully, there are still a variety of newspapers on the stands, and delivered to devices and doorways.
What I have learned most of all in my first two months at The Lincoln County News is no matter how lucky I feel I am to be in the wheelhouse of this solid ship, it is community that is luckiest of all.
Lincoln County has a newspaper to call its own: All hands on deck and full steam ahead, seaworthy and freighted with stories.