The week between Christmas and New Year’s is usually a quiet time for a community newspaper. Barring weather disruptions not in evidence this year, time-sensitive news slows down along with the wheels of government and meeting schedules, and Island commerce generally takes a deep breath and/or makes plans for shortened winter schedules. As a result, newspaper staffs can throttle down a bit, attend to lists and ferry reservations, and hopefully have a few minutes left over for spiritual renewal.
This downtime brings an accompanying trap, though: that for those with even a very modest pulpit from which to preach, including The Times’ publishers, the relative quiet may be misread as an invitation to contrive and float earnest messages of many sorts — hopes and wishes, report cards, predictions, and the riskiest of all overreaches, the dreaded resolutions —- in anticipation of the new year’s new start. The optimistic self-improvement scaffolds we march ourselves up to and then slither off of, sometimes year after year, are and should be truly embarrassing. Isn’t there a wise old saying about the pathology of repeating the same failed thinking over and over while unaccountably expecting different and better results?
So rather than jinx the start of 2016, Barbara and I will opt for simply taking a moment to thank all of those we so depend on — our readers, Island businesses and organizations, and our staff and contributors — for allowing us to deliver the newspaper and digital content we love, and for encouraging us to feel that you, too, find what we do important and valuable.
The Times’ model of community journalism — being as useful as we can across the whole of our surprisingly diverse Martha’s Vineyard community — is complicated, with many moving parts, relentless schedule demands for timeliness, and a higher risk of error than we would like.
The extent to which we are successful depends on respecting and tending all of our constituents, beginning with a very diverse community wanting reliable information of all sorts, from breaking news to background and discovery journalism, to community profiles and activities, to accurate calendar listings and advertiser offerings, to conversations about the news, and trusting us to deliver as close to on-demand as possible. We are deeply appreciative that you value us, that you return to us often, and that you let us know when we’ve pleased (or disappointed or annoyed) you.
Then, because so many of you rely on us for local information in print and on the web, we can in turn ask for support from Island businesses and organizations in exchange for getting their messages out to the whole community. Performances and exhibitions, special sales, personal and household services, health information, community government and meetings, classifieds and directory listings — all advertisements and notices we depend on, but also an important composite narrative, the source material, if you will, that defines regular Island life. We greatly appreciate all of our advertisers — your support represents close to 100 percent of the resources needed to turn out a committed weekly newspaper, reporting and ads alike, for what after the seasonal frenzy dissipates is just a small Island economy.
The third leg of our system — putting the pieces together each week, without fail — falls to a caring, professional staff committed to producing the newspaper we want to deliver to the Martha’s Vineyard community. For The Times to work takes editors and writers with the highest possible standards needing to be exercised amid inescapable practical constraints, web specialists who dream up new ways of communicating while keeping our complex systems running, advertising representatives who want to make each transaction work for our hundreds of customers, designers and production alchemists who turn images, fonts, and digital bits into print and web products every day, and a front office and circulation team that want to make a success of every public encounter. To each of you, you have our admiration and our gratitude.
To our community of readers, advertisers, and contributors — our best wishes to you all for a thoughtful, peaceful, and happy 2016.
Barbara and Peter Oberfest, Publishers