This week we at Brown Publishing Company celebrate 42 years of publishing your community news.
I was in high school when I first started with the newspaper and worked after school as our Subscription Manager. We bought a Kaypro personal computer to manage the database of a few hundred subscribers and stored the important information on various large floppy disks. Yes, those were the early days of computer technology.
My next job was typesetting and layout. Prior to the technological advancements in desktop publishing, newspaper type was set on large machines that didn’t easily allow users to make edits or variations in font style or size. Typographical errors were corrected during the layout phase. And X-Acto knives and wax machines were important tools of the trade. I became so skilled at cutting and pasting that I could cut out a period and replace it with a comma without disrupting the letters on either side.
I soon graduated to editing special issues and creating content by writing stories and selecting graphics from the various clip-art catalogues. Most Wednesdays I worked alongside my mother Cheryl and our editor Lee until the early morning hours, completing the last articles before Thursday’s publication.
Now as publisher, things have changed dramatically. With desktop publishing and digital photography, we can complete our layout efficiently. Instead of simply printing a physical newspaper weekly, we print the paper, write, design and distribute two digital products a week, produce two websites, and manage six social media sites by sending daily tweets and sharing daily posts. We run a week-long annual study tour that has successfully educated over 500 educators on the American freedom movement known as the Underground Railroad, and we remain committed to our advocacy roots through our strategic communications and outreach firm.
Every year I make a pilgrimage to visit two significant places in journalism history. The first is the printing press that belonged to Mary Shadd Cary, the first woman to edit a newspaper in North America. As the editor of the Provincial Freeman that circulated in both the northern United States and western Ontario Canada, Ms. Shadd was committed to equal rights advocacy. Her printing press is housed at the Elgin Settlement Historic Site in Buxton, Ontario, Canada. Her story is a reminder of our duty as a community newspaper. The second is the Talman Building at 25 Buffalo Street in Rochester, New York. That building is considered a historic site in journalism because it housed the first offices of the North Star Newspaper, the first newspaper founded by the abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Standing outside that building and reading the plaque that marks its significance, reminds me that I am part of a grander tradition in journalism where success is measured by our ability to make a difference not just a dollar.
After 42 years of publishing, we continue to strive to be an important source of information for the community and consider our role in educating and informing our citizens to be a crucial one. Thank you for your continued partnership, engagement, and support.
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