Your newspaper's future is in good hands

Are we crazy?

In an era when newspapers are losing readers, cutting staff, and, sadly, closing, we have decided to buy one — yours, The Altamont Enterprise. We, the new publishers, are three award-winning journalists who believe that good reporting is essential to democracy. Further, we believe, a good newspaper can bind a community as well as inform it.

Let us introduce ourselves:

— Melissa Hale-Spencer, 62, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wellesley College, learned how to write from her father, the best reporter she’s known. She had her first newspaper job at her parents’ weekly, The Lake Placid News, and, after teaching English at the University of Buffalo, has been at The Enterprise for more than 25 years. She will continue as the paper’s editor;

— Marcello Iaia, 25, a classical guitarist with a music degree from Florida State University, has assiduously covered the Helderberg Hilltowns for three years, winning statewide awards for both his writing and photography. He will now also serve as the Enterprise’s digital editor, overseeing its prize-winning website, and social media. With Hale-Spencer, he will manage the paper’s day-to-day operations; and

— Gary Spencer, 61, raised in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and schooled at Harvard, where he wrote his honors thesis on Mark Twain, worked as a daily newspaper reporter for a quarter of a century before taking his current job as spokesman for New York’s top court. He is bearing a third of the financial burden of this endeavor because he loves his wife. He’ll lend emotional support as well as wise counsel.

Iaia’s family has advised him to get into a more prosperous line of work or, if not, at least to work for a bigger paper, where he can advance. Spencer and Hale-Spencer, at the other end of the age spectrum, have been told that now is the time to retire and relax, to enjoy what’s left of life rather than risk losing what they’ve earned; they’ve been asked, “Why put in 80-hour work weeks for low pay?”

The answer is: This matters.

We’re afraid, if we don’t do this, no one else will. Jim Gardner started working at the Enterprise print shop as a printer’s devil when he was in high school. More than 60 years later, he is still here, with his wife, Wanda, beside him. Their son, Jimmy, is a master printer like his father and runs a photo shop here, too.

For decades, they have worked long hours, and kept their community paper alive. The Gardners will continue to run the print shop and the ancillary businesses at 123 Maple Ave. We plan on using their services every chance we get. We’ll be right across the street, at 120 Maple Ave. Jim and Wanda Gardner will continue as publishers emeriti, which includes attending the local firehouse dinners to honor and record the work of dedicated volunteers.

We are purchasing a name — The Altamont Enterprise & Albany County Post — and a subscription list.

We also have the expertise of our talented staff: our reporters — Jo E. Prout, Anne Hayden Harwood, and Elizabeth Floyd Mair; our photographer, Michael Koff; our illustrator, Carol Coogan; our graphic designer, Christine Ekstrom; our advertising manager, Cherie Lussier; our ad rep, Bryande Murray; our circulation manager, Ellen Schreibstein; and Holly Busch who heads the dedicated crew that every Thursday morning labels and bundles our printed pages to see that they get to you.

We also hope we have the good will and support of our readers. We promise you we will continue to report the news that matters in Guilderland, New Scotland, and the Helderberg Hilltowns. While other media may dip in for an occasional story, we will be there week in and week out. You can count on us.

We’ll be at the zoning and planning and town board meetings, where decisions that shape your communities are made. We’ll be at the school board meetings, too, where the education of your children is decided upon. We’ll be in the classrooms and on the sports fields. We’ll cover the environmental issues and the crime. We’ll cover the businesses and the events. We’ll talk to the leaders and to the overlooked.

We’ll carry a torch to shine in dark places and we’ll hold up a mirror to reflect what is really in our midst. These are the tools of our trade and we use them with pride and precision.

We’ll continue, too, to serve as a community bulletin board, both online and in print, where you can read about your libraries and senior groups, about the Scouts and churches, about the clubs and concerts, about the festivals and socials.

We’ll record the milestones of your life — the births, the marriages, and the deaths. Our obituaries will run for free, as they always have, and our reporters will take great care in creating a portrait of those who have lived and died among us.

Our founder, editor D. H. Crowe, wrote in the first issue of The Enterprise in 1884 that we would be “a silent speaker of true things.” We still are. We live our byword each and every week: “We seek the truth and print it.” We do this without fear or favor. We do it even when towns pull legal advertising or businesses pull display ads. We serve you, the reader, and no one else.

We strive to be accurate and fair. When we make a mistake, we correct it.

Our first editor also asked this question: Would our towns support and sustain a journal that is ready for a square knockdown of wrong each week? We’re still here because you have.

Each week, in our opinion pages, we create a community dialogue because we print letters on all sides of local issues, so that you can see beyond your own views and, together, we can move forward.

We’re most proud of our editorials not because they’ve won state or international awards but because they have moved you, our readers, and brought about changes for the good: a sodomized daughter got her day in court, toxic wastes were cleaned from an old Army dump, skewed tax rolls were righted, a big-box plan was thwarted — all because our readers were empowered with knowledge.

Our paper will continue to, quite literally, put people on the same page. One of our favorite examples from over the years is a simple one: We published a story and editorial outlining the work that would have to be done to complete a local high-school track after the government funding for the project had run out. One of our readers decided the job should be finished. He owned a bulldozer, and organized a crew to begin work. Others joined in; the finished track is now a credit to a proud community.

Together, we can move earth. Read your paper. We promise to make it worth your while.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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