Now that a rather challenging 2009 is behind us, I can’t think of a better time to share a few thoughts about the role and future of community journalism in our society and that of Feather Publishing in your hometown.
Local newspapers are much more than paper and ink. Newspapers pull towns and cities together by connecting people with those around them. Our employees work and live in the communities they cover. They’re your neighbors. They share your values. They understand your community because they’re a part of it.
While covering the community’s news and events and providing a forum for healthy discussion of local issues, we also recognize our role in becoming the historical written record for Lassen and Plumas counties. Rest assured, that’s a responsibility we will never take lightly.
Community newspapers also help boost the local economy--—through advertising and in news coverage. This year we aggressively showcased local businesses in our news pages as part of the region’s “Think Local First” campaign to help stimulate the economy and protect jobs.
Considered by some a public institution, newspapers are also a business, driven by a bottom line that depends on advertising and readers to exist.
Included in our bottom line is an annual payroll of nearly $1.7 million, which is pumped right back into our local communities in Plumas and Lassen counties.
Embedded in that payroll are some really dedicated men and women—many of whom my wife, Keri, and I are proud to say have worked with us for the better part of their lives. That’s 82 co-workers companywide amassing some 560 years working here.
Here’s a quick peek at a few of the older ones…oops, I mean senior staffers: Kevin Mallory leads the longevity list. He’s assistant vice president in charge of administration and our computer technology. In December, he celebrated his 30th anniversary. He still has two more years to go to catch Barbara Hall, who semi-retired from our classified department earlier this year with 32 years of service.
Next on the list with 29 years is Tom Forney, our production manager. This quiet, unassuming man takes enormous pride in making sure that when your paper arrives it’s crisp, clean and sparkling with vibrant colors.
Skillfully and professionally handling all the responsibilities associated with two very essential departments for 28 years are Sherri McConnell and Eva Small, our Plumas advertising manager and graphics department manager, respectively.
Patsy Dingel has more than earned her stripes over the 27 years she’s skillfully laid ink on paper for our print shop customers. Working side by side with Patsy for 18 years is Tony Ringo, who occasionally takes time from his printing duties to act as the unofficial company tour guide, enlightening and entertaining visitors of all ages at our plant in Quincy.
For 22 years, the hard-working Randy Stratton has effectively been the stabilizing anchor to our mailroom and distribution departments in Quincy.
Beginning their third decade with 21 years each are Carrie Curran and Cobey Brown. Carrie works in our graphics department where she specializes in producing award-winning advertising layouts and newspaper pages.
Like the others, Cobey proved his worth early on in his career here and worked his way up through the ranks. He is now the printing division manager and assistant vice president in charge of all company operations, making him ultimately responsible for making sure it all comes together and gets out the door every single week.
Resident Editor Alicia Knadler has kept the folks in Indian Valley in the know for 16 years now. Cheri McIntire, Chester ad consultant/office manager, recently celebrated her 15-year milestone as has graphic artist and ad designer Juliet Beer in Quincy.
Unfortunately (and apologetically), I’m running out of space to individually name the remaining staff and their years of service. To summarize the rest: We have 14 more approaching the 15-year mark, with yet another 14 nearing the 10-year milestone and six at five years, with several more not far behind. Each of you has our sincerest thanks and utmost respect for all you do.
Keri and I began our newspaper careers here in 1974. From the very onset, we knew we wanted to nurture and grow a family business, surrounding ourselves with employees who shared in a philosophy that is our business mission statement: Pride and Ownership. Being committed to constant and never-ending improvement.
Mission accomplished, but far from over.
Small newspapers, like ours, play a vital role in the communities they serve. I have no doubt they will continue to do so for many, many decades to come. We look forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, and hope that we will continue to be a welcomed guest in your home.
On behalf of all of us, may we all have a healthy, safe and prosperous new year!