One of the earliest and most vivid memories I have of holding this newspaper is as a young teenager. My dad, who worked on the presses, would arrive home after dark carrying crisp, folded copies of that day’s Lancaster New Era and Intelligencer Journal in one hand and an ink-blotched lunch pail in the other. I’d sit at the kitchen table, leafing through both papers until dinnertime.
I marveled at the idea that, at the instant the ink hit the newsprint, those pages conveyed information and ideas that would immediately become the shared knowledge of an entire community. The couples who had given birth. The families mourning a death. The weddings and graduations and milestones, both celebratory and somber, in the lives being lived in Lancaster County.
This was in the 1980s, when the press crew was putting in 14-hour shifts to learn how to run the company’s new $13.5 million Man Roland “Flexoman.” The move from direct lithography, or “di litho,” to a new printing technology called flexography, used by only a few newspapers in North America at the time, was a difficult one.
It would allow for the use of color pictures throughout the newspaper and, more importantly, a water-based ink that wouldn’t rub off on your hands. But getting to that ideal, getting the Flexoman to cooperate, was easier said than done. “We put out some ugly-looking papers at times,” my dad told me some time ago.
The long days, the new press, the first few ugly papers three decades ago — they were about learning a new technology, about embracing innovation, about navigating the uneven path of progress.
Yes, this is what we still do today.
This is what our news organization has done for 225 years.
And despite the forecasts of doom and gloom — I was in the room when New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet predicted most local newspapers would die in the next five years — we will keep finding new ways to tell your stories.
Change is a constant. We get that. And we will adapt. We will keep getting better.
As the new executive editor of LNP | LancasterOnline, I assure you our reporters, editors, artists and photographers will continue producing the finest, most comprehensive and impartial news report on our community you can find anywhere.
We are sharpening our focus on the topics and issues you care most about. The quality of your drinking water. The rising cost of health care. The safety of your neighborhoods. The irresponsible development of productive farmland. The traffic-choked network of pikes from the city to the suburbs. And carefully researched, fearless investigative reporting on our government institutions.
We are able to do this because of your support, and because of the support of our advertisers.
LNP | LancasterOnline, unlike many community newspapers, benefits from a growing base of subscribers, who allow us to provide coverage that is deeper and more comprehensive than most newspapers our size. It is an exception in an industry that has been decimated by layoffs and the steep decline in advertising revenue, an existential threat.
Two-thirds of U.S. counties do not have a daily newspaper. In those that do, most have been gutted by their hedge-fund owners, leaving news deserts in their wake. The number of newsroom employees has fallen from 71,000 in 2008 to just 38,000 as of 2018.
We are not immune.
But we’ve found new ways to report on our community. We’ve launched a journalism fellowship program for emerging minority reporters, and our first — Hurubie Meko — has been hitting it out of the ballpark with her reporting on contaminants in private wells across Lancaster County. In 2020, we will bring on a new fellow and reporting interns.
We’ve obtained grant money for testing more wells for our readers and those concerned about the quality of their drinking water.
In 2020, we will enter our fourth year of publishing The Caucus, our award-winning weekly newspaper that does investigative reporting on state government and politics. To expand our reach and enhance our reporting, we’ve teamed up with journalists at WITF and PA Post; The Inquirer in Philadelphia; The Patriot-News in Harrisburg; and The Post-Gazette in Pittsburgh. We’re partners in Spotlight PA, the investigative reporting news organization in Harrisburg.
We’ve teamed up with a nonprofit law firms and law school clinics to fight for public access to government records.
Earlier this month, the nonprofit group Investigative Reporters & Editors chose LNP | LancasterOnline to be one of 10 sites across the country for an intensive training program that will allow our reporters and editors to sharpen their investigative skills and better serve as watchdogs on our local government institutions.
Working in the community, we’ll host debates and open those forums up to the public next year, when members of Congress and the Legislature are up for election. We’ll hold Democracy Day for high school students to learn more about issues facing our government and the importance of media literacy.
LNP Media Group President Caroline Muraro and her teams in advertising and marketing are finding creative new ways to make sure local businesses are successful. Shane Zimmerman, president of The Steinman Foundation, works with seed money from this news organization to fund community journalism and media literacy programs, workforce development programs, and STEM and early-childhood education.
There are lots of amazing, innovative and just plain cool things happening inside LNP | LancasterOnline. There are lots of amazing, innovative and cool things happening in Lancaster County.
And we’re here to report on them.
Like the talented and versatile press crews who tamed the Flexoman, like the reporters and editors who gave up their typewriters for terminals, we’re learning every day. We’re adapting to change. We’re finding new ways to deliver news to you.
And we’re able to do it because of your support.