Next week’s Local will not be the same. For the first time in 15 years the Chestnut Hill Local will go to press without Pete Mazzaccaro at the editorial helm.
Next week’s Local will not be the same. But, of course, no two weeks of the Local are the same. So if you receive a Local next week that looks exactly like this week’s paper, blame the post office. (Inexplicable occurrences like that have been taking place over the past several months, but that is a story for another day.)
The July 15th issue will be different in another way. For the first time in 15 years the Chestnut Hill Local will go to press without Pete Mazzaccaro at the editorial helm. (Though Pete’s final day at the Local was last Friday, he worked with interim editor Walt Maguire to pull this issue together.)
No matter what you do for a living, 15 years is a long time. That is especially true of newspaper work – you either need to love what you are doing or be a glutton for punishment. The two are not mutually exclusive. And it is not like you get to laugh all the way to the bank.
Perhaps Pete’s finest work was under the most challenging circumstances. Working remotely on outdated equipment and with a reduction in our workforce, Pete kept the Local “always illuminating.” In the gloomy isolation of the pandemic, when the world we thought we knew became suddenly unfamiliar, the constancy and persistence of the Local in the mailbox every week was like a beacon, each week coming without fail, shining a light on local heroes and happenings, providing a window to the outside world and serving as a glimmering tether to distant normalcy.
That may sound overstated, but I know that is how many of you feel about your Local. Pete coordinated, edited and in many cases produced the content you welcomed into your homes every week like it was a message from the frontlines of a war.
Pete served the Local and its readers well for 750 editions over a decade and a half. So now what?
People ask me if I am nervous about finding a new editor. To paraphrase Rudyard Kipling, “if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs...it’s just possible you haven’t grasped the situation.” That may describe me. When you have been in the newspaper business for as long as I have, you develop a high tolerance for significant changes. In over 30 years in the industry, witnessing consolidations and closings of neighboring papers, I am not aware of one instance where the publication closed because the editor left or the publisher resigned, or the circulation manager ran off with the receptionist. (I said I have seen a lot in 30 years!) People come and go; the institution remains. There were editors before Pete; there will be editors after Pete.There will be publishers after me. The faces at the Local will change, but the face of the Local will not.
Since 2004, over 2000 newspapers have gone out of business. Most of those were community weekly newspapers. Ultimately, they failed because they did not have the support of their communities.
It is incumbent upon us at the Local to earn that support by making sure the newspaper is relevant, timely, informative, useful, entertaining...indispensable. It is an ongoing effort by a small but dedicated group. The Local is conducting a search for a person who is committed to those goals and will pick up where Pete left off.
During this time and well into the future, we could sure use your support.
John Derr, Publisher