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Some perspective on The Lakeville Journal Company’s long tenure

The article and survey running in The Lakeville Journal and Millerton News have already led to opinions being shared with us on how The Lakeville Journal Company handles local news coverage. We’re hearing those opinions through the online and written surveys, email, phone and face to face. And that is just what we wanted. Thank you all. And for those who haven’t yet done it, please fill out the survey. It will help us moving forward.

There’s always room for improvement, and nobody believes that more than we, as we try to fulfill the communication needs of our communities in the Northwest Corner, and in those covered by The Millerton News. We will collect the data that comes in through those surveys and use it to help in planning our future publications. 

This is certainly not the first time the company has reevaluated its approach to local news, and we hope it will not be the last. It has been a necessary exercise in order to survive the challenges of operating as a small, independent media entity in an area where most of the other news sources were bought by large corporations over the past 25 to 30 years. 

It is only due to the commitment and relentless perseverance of our Lakeville Journal Company ownership since 1995 that the company was able to stave off that kind of takeover. Now, however, with continuing change in the economic and demographic makeup of our coverage region, it’s time to look at another shift in the way we define and fulfill our mission.

The model created in 1995 was innovative in its time, when a local group of investors headed by William E. Little Jr. and the late A. Whitney Ellsworth purchased the company from Robert Hatch. Hatch had experienced challenges himself in keeping the busy print shop, design department, publishing company and newspapers viable even during a time of greater advertising and circulation support for the group. Before that, The Lakeville Journal and Millerton News had owners who also operated the company, wrote the stories, printed the publications and made sure the newspapers appeared on newsstands every week. 

Hatch, however, could not find anyone willing to take that over from him. It became clear to him and others that the publications would disappear without some creative thinking, after his trying for an extended period of time to hand over the company to new ownership according to the old model. Little, Ellsworth and the company’s previous owner and publisher Robert Estabrook, who remained a strong part of the company right up to his death in 2011, stepped into the void to find a way to save them. 

They gathered together a board of investors who have stuck with it for almost a quarter century, which compares favorably with the tenures of other owners of the company over the last 123 years. Now to the next step, whatever that will be, with some open minds generating it.