Horn of plenty trumpets truth in new form

From the editor

When we talk about the press — as Walter Lippmann did when he said, “A free press is not a privilege but an organic necessity in a great society” — we mean the mediums that carry news and inform the public. At the time Lippmann spoke those words, that included radio and television as well as newspapers and magazines. It now includes the Internet, too.

We’re mindful of this at The Altamont Enterprise & Albany County Post as we launch a new website this week. We believe local news is a necessity, and it’s getting harder to come by.

We hope our new website will make our coverage conveniently available to more readers and will also, after a free introductory period, bring in more revenues to support the dedicated staff that ferrets out local news and writes it thoroughly and fairly.

Our paper is independently owned — not part of a conglomerate or a large corporation. James and Wanda Gardner have spent the bulk of their lives keeping The Enterprise alive and vibrant. Our new website — at www.AltamontEnterprise.com — is the latest in a series of technological advances they have made in their decades of owning The Enterprise.

The root of the word “press” is, of course, in the physical imprinting of words on a page.

One-hundred-and-twenty-nine years ago, when our newspaper was founded because its publisher believed the local citizens would want to be informed of goings on in their community and were “ready for a square knockdown with wrong” each week, The Enterprise was also a print shop.

We still are, and our publisher is a master printer. Gardner started working in the print shop just after graduating from Guilderland High School more than a half-century ago. His son now carries on the tradition.

It is a heritage of which we are proud. And you can see it symbolized in the icon that centers our nameplate: The Franklin press.

Benjamin Franklin is best known for his work as a scientist and an inventor, a diplomat and statesman, one of the framers of our constitution and shapers of our new nation.

But he began as a printer, apprenticing with his brother in Boston at the age of 12 and then becoming a publisher on his own in Philadelphia.

His role as printer was essential to his identity. The epitaph he composed for himself, as a young man, said:

“The body of Benjamin Franklin, Printer (like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding), lies here, food for worms; but the work shall not be lost, for it will (as he believed) appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author.”

With our new website we are mindful of our roots. Our newspaper continues to be — whether online or in print — as our first editor wrote in 1884, “Not a visitor of flesh and blood but a silent speaker of true things that will each week go to every home where its presence is welcomed.”

We like to think that Benjamin Franklin — a proponent of postal efficiency, who became Philadelphia’s postmaster in 1737 and eventually became postmaster general for all the colonies — would be pleased with our efficient way of now reaching into homes where we’re welcomed.

Although we have always been and will continue to be based in the village of Altamont, we have for well over a century covered the towns of Guilderland, New Scotland, Berne, Knox, Westerlo, and Rensselaerville. We believe in-depth regional coverage is important; citizens from both rural and suburban areas can benefit by understanding issues that affect each.

Thomas Jefferson, a chief author of the grand experiment of modern democracy, wrote in 1787, “The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

We will continue to publish the opinion of people — local people on local issues — on our website, and we will continue to check all the facts before we do. Our website will not become a free-for-all for unfounded or untrue claims.

The printing press remains a symbol of free and independent publication and will remain our icon. We chose a font for our online nameplate and standing headers that reflects our printer’s heritage and is similar to our 19th-Century nameplate — Goudy Bookletter 1911. Its designer, Barry Schwartz, based the font on Kennerley Oldstyle, having discovered that Kenneryly fits together tightly and evenly with almost no kerning. The characters lock together with a closeness typical of early types.

So, too, our readers will be locked together by sharing common information.

We will post the same kind of work that has led to our winning scores of awards from the New York Press Association over the last 20 years, and recognition as well for our editorials from the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.

In an era when television and the Internet allow us to see instantly what is happening on the other side of the world, and when much media attention is given to national and state issues and elections in our country, it is easy to forget that many of the decisions that most affect our everyday lives are made locally.

You will now find online, just as you do on our printed pages, letters that allow the community to talk to and inform itself, interviews on issues for elections that allow voters to make educated choices, reports on crime and courts in our towns, investigations on area environmental issues that affect our health and welfare, news on educational trends and articles on what is happening in local classrooms, stories on local athletes and high-school games, features on people of interest living in our midst, news on local events and activities, cartoons and illustrations that lend insight, and advertising highlighting local goods and services.

In short, we provide news you can’t get anywhere else.

And we’ll continue to carry out our same mission as an independent voice for our community, unfettered by corporate demands. Whether we come into your home through computer or phone, on our website, or in the age-old way of newsprint, we seek the truth and report it.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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