Editorials and opinions

the Chronicle changes and remains the same

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by Joseph Gresser

Extremely thorough readers of the Chronicle probably noticed a change this week in one of the most obscure areas of the paper — the masthead.  After working here for four decades — with occasional breaks to pursue other interests — Tena  Starr has decided to step away from the editor’s desk.

Over the years I’ve worked for her I have found Tena to be a fair boss, a generous mentor, and a good friend.  She is an exacting editor and a superb writing coach, pushing reporters to produce clear, lively, and accurate articles.

I have benefited enormously from her experience and advice and the University of Vermont was wise to snap her up as an advisor to budding writers in its journalism program.

Her contributions to the paper are too many to list here.  The most recent is putting together the team of excellent reporters whose work has graced recent issues of the Chronicle.

They include Emmett Avery, Sylvia C. Dodge, Leanne Harple, and our new assistant editor, Luke Vidic.

With Tena’s departure, I have been given the honor of editing the Chronicle.  As I undertake this role, I find myself hoping my feet will grow to fit Tena’s very large shoes.

Although I began writing for this paper in 2005, I still very much feel like the new kid in town.  Most of my colleagues were here before me.

In part that is a tribute to the institution Chris and Ellen Braithwaite started back in 1974, an improbably successful local newspaper, based on an ethic of accuracy and fairness.

Every one of us who works here, even those who have only been with the Chronicle a short while, has had the experience of telling someone in the community who we work for.

The Chronicle?  I love that paper,” is the usual response.

There is no feeling better than knowing one’s hard work is appreciated.  It makes it easy to get up in the morning and get to it.

We at the Chronicle, are fortunate to be among the declining number of people who work for local papers that are locally owned.

When Chris and Ellen decided it was time to sell, they didn’t look to a big media company to buy the Chronicle.

In most cases such sales result in a new owner coming in and, in the name of efficiency, cutting the editorial staff to the bone.  Too many papers are mere shadows of their former selves with little original reporting.

The Chronicle, though, is owned by a group of its employees, including our publisher, Tracy Davis Pierce, Tena, Paul Lefebvre, Georgia Young, Trudy Blackburn, Billy Thompson, Kjya Detoma, and me.

Our object in buying the Chronicle was not to make a lot of money, although I suppose that would be nice, but, more importantly, to continue to put out a paper we can be proud to work for.

Vermont is an unusual place in many respects, one being our belief in local democracy.  Town Meeting is where the most important decisions affecting our daily lives are made, and good information is essential in making such decisions.

We believe in democracy and we are here to provide news you can rely on to be accurate.  We are members of the community we cover and we mean to foster civil discussion of the issues that most concern us.

Of course, there is more to life than local politics.  It is important to know if a bear has been truck shopping in Albany or if one of our neighbors is the proud owner of a 60-year-old cucumber.

We are fortunate to have people who reach out to us with that kind of news, and hope you will continue to let us know about the smaller important things you notice as well as the large matters that concern us all.

Our letter column remains open to all, subject to the guidelines clearly laid out in the box that appears on the letters page each week.

I am prouder than I can say to be part of the Chronicle and can promise to do my best to maintain the quality you have come to expect from our paper.  I also promise you I will make errors from time to time.

Should you spot one, please let me know.  Part of our job is admitting mistakes publicly and correcting them.

If you have comments, corrections, or story ideas, you can always reach me directly at [email protected]

To paraphrase the inimitable Loudon Young, whose column played a large part in making the Chronicle a success, thanks for reading ours.

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