To imagine your role

Melissa O’Brien

During Easter week what you have is a news editor with very few words. Or, rather, a pastor with a lot going on. Also, while I’m sitting here feeling a little lacking in vision, let me mention that one of us three hospice chaplains who cover hundreds of Vermont miles is out with a broken arm, and I have two papers to write for my Fordham classes.

Read with compassion, kind Charlotter.

Since I arrived back in this place, I have been thinking about ways in which we can all help move this wonderful newspaper into the future. The trend in paper advertising is a downward arrow, and advertising is primarily what keeps the lights on in the office. Like it or not, it costs something to produce this paper every other week.

How do we continue to do this? How do we continue to do this together? Do we want to continue to do this, together? These are very real and valid questions. I have been pleasantly surprised by the response we have gotten since I’ve been back hanging around The News: You read this paper; you care about its contents. I do, too, or I wouldn’t have tossed this job on the mom/pastor/chaplain/student pile.

So what do we do then? How can we work together to see that The Charlotte News has a robust future? That we don’t have to worry, from issue to issue, if the word issue will one day disappear? How can we move the burden from the few who have committed themselves to providing funding to the many who don’t want to see this newspaper go the way of so many others, to the newspaper graveyard. I did not come here in my capacity as a hospice chaplain to tend to an enterprise on life support. 

Let’s start thinking and talking and dreaming about what we can do and how we can do it, together. If business owners no longer see benefits to placing advertising in our print newspaper, what do we do next? Instead? What does the future look like?

This week, board president Vince Crockenberg and I will start talking about ideas we have, working together with the Friends of The Charlotte News, for community gatherings as a means of generating funds to keep this paper chugging. This conversation was begun already, with my friend, Suzanne Slesar, who is a terrific ideas person; with Francine Stephens at Philo Farm, who is game; with Stacy Fraser, foodie extraordinaire, Dave Quickel and James Vogler. This is a very good starting place. We are imagining gatherings with food and music and stories to benefit this paper and to build community ties.

Please take a moment, as you read this, to imagine your role in holding this paper’s hand and walking into the future with it. The day it no longer arrives in your mailbox, the day you no longer see whose kid is playing lacrosse or who died or who spoke up at Town Meeting or who bought the house that was for sale down the street; who’s running for justice of the peace or who traveled to Bhutan; who is a new grandparent and who ran in the marathon; the day the lights go out on this 60-year-old gem is a day I don’t care to imagine, and I believe, I hope, I’m pretty sure you don’t either.

Let’s figure this out together.