508 #50: Worcester Magazine

posted by Mike on August 29th, 2008

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s panel includes former Worcester Magazine News Editor Noah Schaffer, Jeff Barnard, and Brendan Melican.

Worcester Magazine has been sold. We discuss why Allen Fletcher sold it and what this will mean for the future of the magazine. Key documents: memo from new publisher Gareth Charter, Jeff Barnard’s overview of WM history, Fletcher’s farewell editorial, and Mike’s old analysis of WM. Outgoing editor Noah Bombard probably bcc’ed half of Worcester with his farewell letter, but since nobody else has taken the time to post it you’ll find it here, below the fold.

So what is Worcester Magazine’s role?

Jeff Barnard: Filling in the backstory.

Noah Schaffer: Today you’ve got podcasts, like the one we’re on now. You’ve got blogs. So it’s not just a matter of providing another voice. Because, you know, if someone wants to get a viewpoint out there, they have plenty of channels these days. But what’s really hard to do, unless you’re a full-time reporter, is to find the stories that aren’t being told in the blogs, or on talk radio, or in the daily paper, and to really fill them in in a rich, detailed way.

We discuss “Brendan Melican, celebrity blogger” and his appearances on the Dianne Williamson radio show and as the last interviewee in One On One.

Brendan Melican on WCRN

Also mentioned: Dianne Williamson’s FCC violations, Konnie Lukes and Brendan talking about ICANN.

City Councilor Gary Rosen is back teaching school; City Councilor Rick Rushton is gonzo blogging from the DNC. People have marched on behalf of DCU janitors. (Old article by Mike on day labor in Worcester, which mentions cleaning up at the DCU.)

The Research Bureau is standing on the verge of having a blog. Joe the Dispatcher Guy is blogging a lot: “I have been thinking of doing just a summary of the entire day versus every hour or every 2 hours.”

We discuss the prolific, boring commenters who hang out at Brendan’s blog, and also traffic.

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Noah Bombard’s farewell letter

Yesterday, following the announcement of the job cuts here at Worcester Magazine in conjunction with the publication’s sale to The Holden Landmark Corporation, I met briefly with the editorial staff. I wanted to share what I said to them with the rest of you – as well as add a few thoughts.

Having only been editor in chief for a year and three weeks, I’m the still very much the “new guy” here. That in itself is a testament to this company — having come from a newsroom environment where it was not uncommon for the staff of entire papers to turn over in a year. But Worcester Magazine is not like other papers. It never has been. It has always had a distinct voice. That’s because to each of you, Worcester Magazine is not a job, it is part of you — and you are part of it.

With my short time here, I feel much like the runner who just got done stretching and pulls a muscle as the starting gun fires. What fun that race would have been. I know I expressed to several of you how excited I was at the prospect of spending many years here, growing with this publication with each passing year and being here to see us reach new heights and defy industry trends. That’s because Worcester Magazine inspired me to believe in journalism again – much like I felt in fifth grade when my cousin and I put together our own little stapled together newspaper or the first time I ever had my byline appear in a real publication. I came here not because it was just a job. I sincerely believe in Worcester Magazine and I sincerely believe in you. I came here with a lot of ideas, but was in many ways the student. And what tremendous teachers you were. Despite a rough few years at this publication, together, we began to make real strides this past year – rebuilding and honoring the work of those who came before us and continuing to shape a concrete and distinct voice that is Worcester Magazine.

For years, I had a quote attached to all of my e-mails from Abraham Lincoln. They were words that always held special meaning to me: “The probability that we may fail in the struggle, ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” What struck me about Lincoln’s words was his choice of the word “probability” rather than “possibility.” You see, it is easy to soldier on with something you believe in when you think you’ve got a good chance at succeeding. But there is something that has always been indescribably moving to me about the ability – the sheer grit and determination — of some people to do what they believe is right despite knowing their failure is all but assured. They work not for gain, but out of pure conviction. This week, we were faced with putting out a newspaper knowing that some of us would not be here the following week. Several of us knew with near certainty we would be gone. I can say with all honesty, having edited many, many papers and worked with dozens of journalists through the years, that I have never seen a group of people shine under such dire conditions like I’ve seen each of you shine this week. This week’s issue was outstanding. Every person to a man gave their all and then some. It makes me so damn proud – and humbled – to be able to say that I worked with each of you and to call you my friends (regardless of whether we swapped jokes and stories or simply passed each other at the door and shared this space).

For those of you who will stay on, you will continue to do what you do best – what you’ve always done – which is to shine. You continue to be a tremendous asset to this paper. Things are a bit tumultuous at the moment, but you’ll pick yourselves up. You’ll carry the torch and you’ll carry it well. This I know. Face it: you are the best and you don’t know how to do it any other way.

For those of you who join me on the unemployment line next week, none of these words will put food on your tables or help you to pay your mortgages next month. We have some monumental and heartbreaking struggles ahead of us, to be sure. But as you look back at your time here at Worcester Magazine in the future, I want you to remember something — do not forget this: You made a difference. Every week you poured your hearts and souls into this paper. It was not for nothing. You had a tremendous impact on this city to a degree which you will never know — whether you were writing the cover story, injecting a little of our signature voice into a listing or just putting copy on a page. The work you did here had real meaning – and it had real meaning to me. It has been a tremendous honor to work with you.

Noah R. Bombard

Editor in chief

Worcester Magazine

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