Monday, November 19, 2012

A Loss for the Community

I was stricken to learn the the Manassas News and Messenger  will cease publication, including the online, as of the end of the year. My wife remembers when the paper was weekly, then a semi-weekly, and then a week daily and finally a daily. It carried all the news of the community.

We all know that electronic publications have been making inroads on print publications, but this leaves us with a local source of news unless we do want to go online, which I have no problem doing. But there are thousands of people who prefer a print publication, and they will be left out unless they learn to use the internet, which many of them don't want to. The News and Messenger had recently cut back to five issues a week, and I suppose the handwriting was on the wall.

I feel for the 33 staff members who are being let go. They have been helpful to the organizations I am afiliated with. People like Keith Walker and Katherine Gotthardt have done yeoman service for years. Some, like Susan Svihilik, Alex Granados, Bennie Scarton and Jonathan Hunley had left already, and they were wonderful newspaper people and human beings. Susan Svihilik got me to write a weekly column for the paper, which I did for about three years, and that really got me into writing again. Thanks, Susan.

I have been writing a column for the Observer papers since last February, and people on the staff of that paper received a heartfelt and articulate email from Randi Reid, the editor and publisher of the papers.  She says it so well:

Today is a very sad day for the newspaper industry in Prince William County.

The News and Messenger announced today that it will cease publication Dec. 30
and will shut down its website, Inside at the same time.

The Journal Messenger was more than 100 years old and the Potomac News had
been around for more than 40 years before the two publications merged a few years
go. Some of you know I was with the Journal Messenger for 16.5 years.

Thirty-three people will lose their jobs.

A valued local news source will be lost.

The solver of small local issues  and the promoter of solutions to community problems will be gone.

An engine that helped make the local economy work will be stilled.

And a champion of protecting the public's right to know and freedom of speech will be silent.


1 comment:

  1. Dan, about four years ago, Susan gave me the incredible opportunity to write for N&M, which I really feel enhanced my career tremendously. I am forever grateful for her and the team who supported me (in spite of my quirks, in some ways, I guess they are used to, having worked with writers). I am sad that such a connector within the community will be discontinued. If nothing else, the N&M is a rich part of our local history...which makes me wonder--why can't our vast collective of historic preservation folks take over the paper in some way? It doesn't have to be a grand, daily, but something to carry on the tradition and the name. There must be some way to negotiate and fund this, even if it means turning the paper into something a little different in the form of a non-profit. If I had money...