June marked the 15th anniversary of the Gazette. When we first published in 2006, we got noticed by The Hook, then a popular and respected weekly in Charlottesville, which predicted our prompt demise. The Hook is gone, and we recently saw another local sheet fold, but the Gazette keeps on truckin’.
That’s because we try to give our readers the newspaper they wish they could have. We keep our focus local, to an almost parochial degree, but we don’t shy away from bigger subjects, even national ones, that are clearly having local impacts. First credit goes to our writers, who are superb; their stories are lucid, fair and honest, even with thorny and complicated subjects. The second nod goes to our readers, who pick up the paper with such alacrity that our advertisers are reassured that their ads do get seen. And, not to slight them, thanks to those local businesses who actually keep us afloat. They appreciate the value of a community newspaper and the solidarity among neighbors that it can foster. The Gazette would like to thank especially Parkway Pharmacy, which has been in every single issue, as well as such loyal friends as Anderson Funeral Home, Curtis Heating & Cooling, Robb Construction, McAllister Painting, B&B Cleaners, and Doug Seal and Sons, who have faithfully kept their ads going for well over a decade. May they all prosper as they deserve for their generosity.
Regrettably, this month we must announce a loss, the retirement of our gentlemanly gardening columnist Charles Kidder, who has put down his pen after more than a dozen years of superb monthly contributions. Kidder’s vast knowledge of his subject and his evident old-school training in composition gave Gazette readers well-informed advice with polish and grace notes of humor. In all that time, your editor found only a handful of mistakes, all of them trivial.
(Perhaps you’ve noticed that all-star medical writer Dr. Robert Reiser, also with us since the origin, has not appeared in the June or July issues. That’s because he wanted a summer without a deadline. He says he intends to restart in the fall, and we sincerely hope that he will. No one explains medical subjects as understandably and with such neat twists of comedy and depth.)
The Gazette continues to believe in the print format because of its fundamental egalitarianism and accountability. We’re on the street for anybody and everybody to have, no Google necessary, and once something’s in black and white you can’t pretend you didn’t say it, as can happen on news websites (and of course we have one), which trend evermore towards partisanship and where something that appeared yesterday can vaporize overnight into the twilight zone.
That said, news media are shaky now because of the sheer diversity of sources and the challenge to advertisers about where to spend their dollars. The industry is searching for a stable business model, such as sponsorship by non-profit organizations, because you can’t get reliable, accurate information unless someone skilled gets paid to go get it. But every ship must have a captain, not a committee of bosses, so for now we’ll stick with the advertising model that distributes income risks and allows us editorial independence. Like many businesses, the Gazette got a glimpse of its grave during the pandemic, yet providence provided what was needed, and we are still upright.
We’ll do our best for you and strive to keep your trust. If you keep picking us up (and support our local businesses!), we’ll have the sunny prospect of another anniversary.