By Melissa O’Brien
With this issue we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the News. The very first issue of the paper was printed on July 18, 1958, so technically we have turned 60, but it’s a significant enough milestone that we can’t help but stretch the joy out over the weeks and months of this year.
It’s such fun to look at the original issue: typed, of course, and printed on legal-size paper, with a message from the “Acting Editor,” Nancy Wood: “We strongly urge everyone to suggest any ideas for improvement of this paper and sincerely hope it will earn your interest and support.”
And: “We hope this first issue of the Charlotte News [there was no “The” back then] will lay the foundation for a permanent newspaper in our town,” is how Nancy introduced the paper that day. How lovely, how amazing that the hope of those involved in the production of our town’s paper has come to fruition.
If you take the time to read each issue when it comes to you, you will find that not much has changed: we still run a calendar of events, the local pastor is still contributing, there is local news (“Plans for the proposed relocation of Route 7 have been thoroughly discussed at a citizens’ protest meeting…”) and stories of local folks. This is why the paper was begun in the first place; this is why the paper is alive today: it was in the beginning and always has been created by community members for this community.
In a recent issue of Seven Days, Burlington’s alternative newspaper, Charlotte was described as “tony” in an article about the current state of nonprofit news outlets. The implication was that the News exists because Charlotte is a wealthy community. I made a point of setting the record straight: “The News’ greatest asset isn’t that it’s in tony Charlotte,” I wrote to the Editor, “the Charlotte News is alive and well largely because it is a shining example of what can be accomplished when people in a community work together to keep an important piece of the fabric of that community alive.”
Welcome, kind and generous readers, to the 61st year of YOUR newspaper. The foundation was, indeed, laid by a committed group of dedicated citizens. You and I grow it from here.