Quiet comeback

This past week has been a momentous one for that staple of American life: the newspaper.

We want to pause a moment to take stock of our good fortune and thank everyone who supports our work by reading the paper week after week and by advertising in its pages. Our mission is to be relevant to your lives and businesses, and to also be interesting and entertaining.

The financial support that we receive from your generous donations, steady subscriptions and consistent advertising has allowed us to recover from the pandemic, which forced sharp cutbacks. Today, we are making a quiet comeback. We get a chill when we read news of other newspapers that are facing existential threats. Last week, that threat become real for three longstanding New York suburban newspapers that suspended operations. The Scarsdale (New York) Inquirer suspended publication after giving readers a weekly report for the last 123 years. The Rivertowns Enterprise, owned by the Inquirer and serving Hastings-on-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley, and Irvington in Westchester County, also suspended operations, as did The Record-Review, an award-winning community newspaper serving Bedford, Lewisboro and Pound Ridge.

Local newspapers reflect a community’s life, and when they vanish there is no image coming back to us from the mirror, revealing our own truths.

This past week also was a dark one at the Los Angeles Times, which announced that it was laying off 20 percent of its newsroom, marking one of the biggest cuts in staffing in the paper’s 142-year history. The Washington Post and the venerable Sports Illustrated have faced recent staff reductions. And we have reported on the pages over the past year about the impact of the changing landscape on community newspapers — more than half of all American communities now are considered news deserts because they no longer have an authoritiative source of local news. There are more than 1,000 public radio stations in America, but only about one in five is producing local news, according to a 2023 study by the Medill School of Journalism. It’s noteworthy, too, that many of these publications have been witness to life in their communities for the past century, or more. The Lakeville Journal and The Millerton News fall into that category.

We began this commentary by appreciating you, our readers and advertisers, for continued support. Without this pact with our community we would not have succeeded in our mission to provide relevant, interesting and entertaining news week to week, or offer a venue for your letters and columns, so that what we see when we all look in the mirror is our community looking back at us.

The digital era has been hard on the news business in a variety of ways. For the past year — again due to your generous backing — we have embarked on a path that will bring the news to you on a more frequent pace and on a platform that suits life in today’s world. The weekly print edition is here to stay! But our new, refreshed websites feature a more modern look and the stories to be found there are free for the reading.

Latest News

Banned Book Awards champions children’s right to read
Judy Blume connected digitally at the ceremony and was honored with a lifetime achievement award.
Alexander Wilburn

There can be no question that democratic freedoms are currently being attacked and restricted in the United States, and somehow, children and the information they have access to have been the ongoing targets of attack.

As AP News reported in 2023: “More than 1,200 challenges were compiled in 2022, nearly double the then-record total from 2021 and by far the most since the American Library Association began keeping data 20 years ago.” Conservative groups across the country have become well-organized machines harassing individual public and school librarians with threats of legal and violent action. The message from these groups, often supported by government leaders, is that children should not have access to books — books meant for young readers — that engage with topics of race, gender or sexual identity.

Keep ReadingShow less
Never a secret: The Black wife of a vice president

In a new American biography, Amrita Chakrabarti Myers, a multi-award-winning author and director of the graduate studies history department at Indiana University Bloomington, uncovers the hidden story of the wife of Richard Mentor Johnson, the ninth vice president of the United States, serving under President Martin Van Buren.

“The Vice President’s Black Wife: The Untold Life of Julia Chinn” from Ferris and Ferris explores the lost account of Chinn — a woman with no official portrait, no legal record of her marriage and no surviving letters or diary to expose her own thoughts or feelings. What we do know: Chinn was a Black woman born into slavery in Scott County, Kentucky; trained as a household domestic worker from a young age; and taken as Johnson’s common-law wife as a teenager when Johnson was 15 years her senior. Chinn was never legally freed from slavery, but she would also come to wield significant authority over the management of Johnson’s property, overseeing the slave labor she was born into, now from a position of power.

Keep ReadingShow less
String quartet dazzles Hotchkiss Library

Ivalas String Quartet

Matthew Kreta

The Guild at Hotchkiss Library presented the Ivalas String Quartet in collaboration with Music Mountain Sunday, Feb. 18.

It was immediately apparent that the members of the quartet have a perfect understanding of each other as performers. Comprised of Reuben Kebede and Tiani Butts playing violin, Pedro Sánchez playing cello and Marcus Stevenson playing viola, the quartet would make constant movements, eye contact and audible breathing to guide and communicate with each other. This made their complex program sound effortless, even though their selections certainly sounded difficult to navigate.

Keep ReadingShow less