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To be, or not to be? Or what to be?

Newspapers are not magical entities. They are run as businesses, and they need at least to cover expenses to remain viable. As important, they attempt to fill the needs of their readers and advertisers, as well as government agencies and nonprofits. The Lakeville Journal Company is at a crossroads because it is not covering its expenses. We want you to tell us if we are fulfilling your needs and expectations for a community newspaper.

Struggling newspapers

The Lakeville Journal Company, like newspapers all across the United States, faces shrinking advertising that is not offset by increased subscriptions and single copy sales, which have also diminished. As we have reported, the population in our coverage area has decreased, and this is reflected in our readership. 

We are in a period when small newspapers (and big ones) are disappearing fast. A recent study by the University of North Carolina says that one in five newspapers has closed in the past 15 years, some 1,800 newspapers. Newsroom employment has declined by 45% as the industry struggles with a broken business model partly caused, according to their research, by the success of companies on the internet, including Facebook. 

Many people now turn to social media for even local news, often discussing events on Facebook. As a newspaper, that is worrisome because the information that is shared is often word of mouth and sometimes incorrect; and discussions often get emotional and antagonistic.

The ownership group that has steered and supported us since June 1995 is now considering the future of the Company and whether there are solutions that could stabilize our two newspapers (The Lakeville Journal and The Millerton News).

As part of that process, we are reaching out to you, our readers and community, to see what you value in local news coverage. From our conversations with you on the street, on the phone, by email, at the grocery store, we think we know what you want to read about; but it would help us in developing our plans if you would let us know where you think we should focus our energies. 

We do not expect everyone to agree, and even very loyal readers of America’s best newspapers tend to be very critical of how news is covered. As a community newspaper, for us, that complex relationship is slightly intensified; familiarity and what it breeds, and all that. But so is the sense of ownership that our readers feel toward our publications, and we appreciate that. This is why we want your input now.

What we cover week to week

Newspapers play an important role in community life. We think we do a lot of good.

We think our primary mission is to cover government and education in the six towns of the Region One School District, for The Lakeville Journal; and nearby towns in Dutchess County, especially Millerton/NorthEast, Amenia and Millbrook, for The Millerton News.

We know that the police blotters that we publish weekly in The Lakeville Journal and periodically in The Millerton News are popular and give a clear sense of what is going on with the police and our community; and we cover crime stories when they are centered in our core communities. 

To entertain and enlighten our readers, and to spotlight the work they do as artists and volunteers, we also do articles on art shows, new businesses, interesting people. Poignantly, of course, often the most interesting people are those we read about each week in the obituaries section; that is one of the most important parts of our weekly publications, and offers our readers a place to memorialize their loved ones and to learn about the lives and deaths and memorial arrangements of friends and acquaintances. 

The letters to the editor page and the viewpoint columns offer another and a very different way to learn what is on the minds of our community members.

Finally, our special publications give us a place to do a deeper dive: on our towns and what makes them tick, as in the Discover series (Discover Salisbury was in our issue of Oct. 3); on arts and entertainment, as in Compass; and on lighter, lifestyle topics in our seasonal supplements such as Fall Improvements, which was included in our issue of Sept. 12. 

Perhaps these facets of our publications are all important to you; perhaps you have favorites and ones you care less about.

What matters to you?

For the coming weeks, we will be running this article online and in print and asking you, the readers, what is most important to you (we first ran another version of this text last week, in our issue of Oct. 10). 

This is a serious question, and the responses will definitely have an impact on how our newspapers and special sections approach the future.

We ask you not to think of our two newspapers as something separate from you, but rather as an integral part of your lives. Your opinions matter to us, and we may be asking more of you. 

We want very much to know what sections of our newspapers are most important to you — and crucially, which ones you would miss if The Lakeville Journal Company were to close, and whether there are available substitutes that would fulfill your needs.

We have prepared a survey.We do want to know what you think and what you want. This is the time to share your thoughts with us.

If you view The Lakeville Journal as your primary newspaper, please complete the survey by clicking here

If you view The Millerton News as your primary newspaper, please complete the survey by clicking here

Or just share your thoughts: Send an email (cynthiah@lakevillejournal.com or publisher@lakevillejournal.com); phone us, 860-435-9873 and ask for Janet Manko; stop by our office at 64 Route 7 North in Falls Village; or send a letter to Janet Manko, Publisher and Editor in Chief, The Lakeville Journal Co., P.O. Box 1688, Lakeville, CT 06039. 

Janet Manko

Publisher and Editor in Chief

Cynthia Hochswender

Executive Editor

The Lakeville Journal

Whitney Joseph

 Editor

The Millerton News

We want to hear from you

We want very much to know what sections of our newspapers are most important to you — and crucially, which ones you would miss if The Lakeville Journal Company were to close.

We have prepared a survey. We do want to know what you think and what you want. This is the time to share your thoughts with us.

If you view The Lakeville Journal as your primary newspaper, please complete the survey by clicking here

If you view The Millerton News as your primary newspaper, please complete the survey by clicking here