Visiting Historic Sites

Visiting Historic Sites

Paulette Brown-Hinds, Publisher

Next week at Voice Media Ventures we celebrate an historic 45 years of publishing 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.

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 Xacto 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.

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 lead a weeklong annual study tour that has successfully educated over 1,300 participants 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. In addition, we are expanding the type of stories we tell through filmmaking and working with new technologies, like producing our independent film, My Name is Myeisha, or our partnership with Esri, Mapping Black California.

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.

Mary Ann Shadd Cary. Photo courtesy of National Archives of Canada, C-029977

Elgin Settlement Historic Site in Buxton, Ontario, Canada.

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 45 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.

About The Author

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