Editorial: It’s the Chronicle’s fortieth birthday — thanks everyone!

A solid reminder of how we used to operate — an old manual typewriter — sits in a corner of the Chronicle office.  The hat belonged to Anna Baker, the artist responsible for the Chronicle cows, and on the wall behind it is a copy of the original flyer announcing the start of a new newspaper, the Chronicle.  Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

A solid reminder of how we used to operate — an old manual typewriter — sits in a corner of the Chronicle office. The hat belonged to Anna Baker, the artist responsible for the Chronicle cows, and on the wall behind it is a copy of the original flyer announcing the start of a new newspaper, the Chronicle. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

copyright the Chronicle March 26, 2014

This week, March 28, is the Chronicle’s fortieth birthday.  Chris and Ellen Braithwaite produced that first edition on typewriters in an Albany farmhouse.  It had stories about Orleans Village winning a lawsuit, cuts to the Lake Region Union High School budget, an obituary, a review of a gardening book written by former West Glover resident Carey Scher — in other words, pretty much the same sort of things we’re still writing about all these years later.

That first paper was by no means fancy.  It was a mere eight pages, put out by relative newcomers to the area on antiquated equipment amidst small children, a mongrel dog, and, according to its first reporter, Colin Nickerson, monstrous spiders that the Braithwaites refused to kill on the grounds that they were natural insecticide.

But some people bought that very first Chronicle — and much to our surprise, some of them have continued to buy it every single week for the past 40 years.

That first edition must have passed muster because two weeks later the Chronicle had its first subscribers.  When Georgia Young, our subscription manager, checked our subscriber list she found that about two dozen of those who’d bought their first annual subscription in April of 1974 are still with us.  They’ve been subscribers for 40 straight years.

For Bill Davies of Orleans, it was largely curiosity that prompted him to pick up that first slender edition of the Chronicle.

“There was the curiosity as to what it was going to be,” he said.  “At that time, it was much more focused on Barton and Glover, that part of Orleans County, and I really liked that.  It was very addictive.  I looked forward to getting it every Wednesday.  The detail that was provided was somewhat unique in my view.”

Mr. Davies said he did wonder if the tiny paper was going to make it, but he must have decided fairly quickly that it would since he subscribed to it for a year.  He doubts he would have spent the money for a year’s subscription if he believed it wasn’t going to buy a year’s worth of news.

He said he certainly has not always agreed with the paper’s editorial positions, but he has always loved the fact that the Chronicle staff has not hesitated to express what they believe.

Paul Daniels of Albany takes a more pragmatic approach.  Probably the reason he’s subscribed to the Chronicle for 40 years, he said, is that his wonderful wife has kept up with renewals.

As for why he bought it in the first place, he said he’s not sure now, “but probably because it was local, right next door to me, really.”

He said he’d met, and liked, Chris.  He had, in fact, sold him a little camper, which Chris had parked on his back lawn for some reason, and he was happy to check out his young newspaper.

Mr. Daniels said his grandmother used to write social news for the Orleans County Monitor, back in the days when papers ran regular columns about things like who visited who and what they had for dinner, and he’s always been drawn to very local news.

The Chronicle was a different kind of paper, said Dorothy Hathaway.  “It was a great paper even back then,” she said.

The dailies had daily news, but the Chronicle had “featury kinds of things, too, that might not necessarily be news,” Ms. Hathaway said.

She recalls Loudon Young’s humorous columns, as well as stories about local people — stories that weren’t big enough, maybe, to end up on the pages of a bigger paper, but important and interesting here.

“They were just fun to read,” Ms. Hathaway said.

With this edition, the Chronicle starts its fifth decade of publishing a weekly newspaper in Orleans County.

It seems like a good time to say thank you to everyone who has made that possible — and a special thank you to those amazingly loyal readers who have stuck with us for all 40 years.

We surely wouldn’t still be here if it weren’t for our advertisers, our readers, and the people who so generously share their stories with us.

What’s great about writing for a newspaper is that there’s always something new.  There’s always someone who feels wronged by the system, someone who cares about something we might never have anticipated.  There’s always a basketball team leaving everything on the court, or a farmer with a brilliant new idea.

Much has changed in the news business, but much hasn’t, too.  A good story is a good story, especially if it’s told well, fairly, and with compassion.

That’s what we love to do, and we hope our passion for those stories — your stories — comes through every week.

A big thank you to all of you, from all of us.  — T.S. and B.M.D.

For more editorials and opinions that have been printed in the Chronicle, visit our Editorials and Opinions page.

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