Melissa O'Brien

What remains

Melissa O’Brien

We held our end-of-the-year board meeting the other day and it was a lively get-together. We talked about the changes we’ve seen this year and of our hopes for 2019. We talked about financials, but that’s not my domain. The treasure here for me is in the human participation in the creation of this paper, and those numbers don’t lie: 167 different writers and 68 photographers contributed to this newspaper this year. 

With a little fewer than 4,000 people living in our town, I would say those numbers are really impressive. And they’re increasing. I’ve been back here at the paper for about 10 months now, and we have grown, not only in terms of contributors but in staffing as well—this at a time when small town newspapers are disappearing. To say that I am proud is an understatement. 

There are two things in particular of which I’m proud. The first is the participation of the kids at CCS with our weekly Journalism Club meetings. I had no idea when I made this suggestion to my friend, Stephanie Sumner, one of the principals at the school, how it would be received. We started meeting in October, and the group continues to grow with about 20 students currently involved. More good news: Kids care about newspapers! 

The other is our intern program. We lost the mighty Alice Outwater this year, the heart behind the program, but it will live on in her absence. Here’s why, in the words from a recent letter to me from one of our recent summer interns, Charlotter and Texas Christian University student Jackie Flynn: 

I hope all is well. I just got back last night from D.C. where I presented my research on the water crisis in South Africa at the Pulitzer Center! The whole weekend was incredible. Not only did I get to present my work, but I met the other fellows who went all over the world working on different projects. They also brought in high profile journalists for panels and events. It was absolutely amazing to hear from them! I even got to sit next to Marvin Kalb at dinner. He gave me a lot of advice and insight on where he thinks journalism is going right now. It was so motivating and very exciting!

I wanted to reach out to you because I kept thinking of how thankful I am to have worked for TheCharlotte News this summer. I brought up several stories I worked on when talking with people, and it was really exciting to have had that experience working for my hometown newspaper. I learned a lot, and I wish I could’ve done more or had longer there. So I wanted to say thank you one more time.

Overall, this weekend definitely solidified for me that journalism is what I want to do. Though I’ve barely just started, I feel incredibly fortunate for the experiences I’ve been a part of so far, especially with The Charlotte News. 

We are doing such good things here at The News: strengthening the bonds of community; introducing our kids to the purpose and meaning of journalism, to the love of reporting, of getting and sharing the story; giving our young adults an opportunity to practice journalism on a very local level. 

Though disconnected often by busy and increasingly technology-focused lives, we seek to stay bonded, by our history here in this magnificent place and by the stories we share here today. 

We are gardeners and farmers and cooks and parents and grandparents. We are retired and we have babies; we run businesses from our homes and travel each day to offices. We are skiers and hikers and boaters and runners and cyclists; we love our pets and our privacy. We are musicians, artists, builders. We volunteer our time for the fire department and the Selectboard and the Cemetery Commission. 

We are so very different and so very alike at the same time. We all hold hopes for our time here in this community. Mine is that this newspaper remains.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy start to 2019!