Way back when when I started in this crazy business, reporters would pound the keyboards of our trusty manual typewriters on recycled newsprint. We would pull out our masterpiece and send it to the editor. There, red from the editor’s pen — yes, it was red — gave color to the stark black type on the off-white page. But, significantly, at the end of the story the editor would add the number 30 bracketed by dashes, — 30 –.
That was an important addition. It told the linotype operator, this was the end of the story. The linotype operator would dutifully place spaces equivalent to 30 ems — the depth of 30 capital “M”s — before he/she started the next story on the galley. That was the indication typographers used as they built pages from the editor’s layout.
Yes. I am that old. Yes, I remember those days and the process.
That’s the focus of this piece. It’s the end of a story — the last story — as part of a 23 year chapter as part of a 52 year book. I have turned over the reins of the Reveille/Between the Lakes to John and Constance Stoughtenger. Obviously it is with mixed emotions.
I’ve been writing this book for quite a while. The business has aged an 18 year old smart-ass youth to a nearly 70 year old smart-ass senior. Each chapter has enriched me more than words can convey. It brought me to six newspapers in five states. I’ve witnessed the evolution from those old “hot type” days to today’s pagination and instant communication. Each stop along the journey taught me something, enriched me, empowered me to keep plugging forward.
Now, to be honest, way back then, I hadn’t considered a career in journalism or publishing. My stint at the Paterson (NJ) News was supposed to be a part-time, put money in my pocket job while I was attending Manhattan College. But a funny thing happened when I followed my first editor on the trail from the newsroom to the composing room to the press room. That first brush with printer’s ink on my new shirt must have somehow been absorbed through my skin and into my veins.
But, back to the current story, the latest story up here nestled in Seneca County smack in the middle of the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. I chose this spot to root a community newspaper the entire county community could be proud of. History will tell if I was successful.
Throughout the years, I have gone out of my way to be inclusive of the entire county. Simply, we are Seneca County’s official newspaper, committed to serving all 10 towns, four villages, four school districts and a wide array of institutions and organizations. I like to think we may be a weekly, but we’re not weaklings. We feel we consistently highlight the events that are important to Seneca County. We’ve been around since 1855 (well, not all of us, but at least the nameplate in one form or another) and we plan on being around for many a year to come. That’s where John and Constance come in. We know the people. We’ve lived the history. We’re planning for the future.
We’re not the biggest fish in the pond, but we know – and more important, our regular subscribers know –who we are and who we serve. Simply, it’s our valued readers.
That’s not really true. Our subscribers are more than just numbers in a database. You are stakeholders, keeping us on track, letting us know when we slip off the rails. I truly hope you give John and Constance that same feedback. While they don’t plan on changing much initially — at least not until they get through a learning curve on a lot of levels — this is a good time for the stakeholders to let them know what they like, what they might not like and offer constructive suggestions. They need your feedback.
Of course, in the past 23 years we’ve covered the every day happenings in the county as well as the extraordinary events. Reveille/Between the Lakes is your one-stop weekly report on the happenings in the county from Junius to Covert. If you’re a businessman in Seneca Falls, a homeowner in Waterloo, a visitor to Lodi or a cottage-dweller along the Ovid shoreline, we are there for you! And you have been there for us!
And we love celebrations! We’ve covered presidential visits, state and federal officials, governors and national figures in arts, science and sports. I’ve tried to cover the county like a glove, fair and balanced, without sensationalizing. History will determine if I succeeded.
I can assure you, I/we may not have always gotten it right, but I/we always tried. We may not have agreed on everything, but it was always a respectful dialogue. Sometimes, we may fight like the Hatfields and McCoys … but when we’re challenged, the community always come together.
There are a zillion people I should thank and 30,000 people in this county, most of whom I can call friend.
I’m not sure exactly what I will be doing in “retirement.” I would like to do some more independent writing. I would like to do some more traveling. And of course, I have five children, 18 grandchildren and two great-granddaughters to visit in six states. I’m looking forward to doing nothing as I sit on the common patio watching the waters of the Piscataquis River roll over the dam. I’m looking forward to going to bed at the same time each night. I’m looking forward to moving about without a laptop attached to my hip or deadlines looming.
This chapter has been amazing — just like the ones preceding it. I suspect the next chapter will be just as rewarding. But it is time to end this chapter with this story. Godspeed to all of you.
— 30 —
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Never lie to someone who trusts you, and never trust someone who lies to you.