The many faces of a community newspaper editor


The editor of this small newspaper finds herself in the position of doing many jobs she never dreamed of as a young, inexperienced and naïve journalism school student.

When you start out at J-school, you learn about reporting and writing a news story. Then you graduate to the longer-format feature story. You get a lot of practice and criticism. You try your virtual pen on opinion pieces, editorials, obituaries. You learn about ethics, law and plagiarism. You might take a photography course. And journalism students today, of course, also get a healthy dose of new media, learning about social media, the Web, video. 

You graduate ready to conquer the world. Or so you think.

Most of us didn’t learn much in J-school about the world of small community newspapers. At least I didn’t. But at a small paper, you discover that it’s not all about writing and reporting. There’s fact-checking. And editing.  And rewriting.  And proofreading. And snapping photos and editing photos.

And phone calls. And emails – lots of emails.

Advertising wasn’t even on my radar in J-school. But we don’t have the luxury of ignoring any part of the industry at a small paper. What happens on the ad side of The Voice directly impacts the editorial side. We try to remain separate. But sometimes, at a community newspaper, the separation is thin. That advertiser just might be the best source for your news story. And when the bills aren’t paid, the editor is the first one to be asked why the advertiser hasn’t paid.

Or, the editor might just be writing a column about the community and remind all the faithful readers to look at our advertising and give our advertisers a try first when the reader needs something that the advertiser can supply. After all, most newspapers wouldn’t exist without advertisers.

The very last thing I ever thought I’d be doing, as a journalist, is asking for readers’ financial support for the publication I work for. But that was then and, as you’ve been reading for several hundred words, this is now. So here I am ending this column with a reminder that we are in the midst of our annual patron campaign. Every spring, The Voice asks its readers to contribute toward the health of the newspaper.

Funds raised during the patron campaign go directly toward the operation of The Voice, assuring that you continue to see the articles, columns, features, photos and community news you enjoy in each paper. 

Patron donations are an important part of our budget. Your contribution could help us upgrade equipment or fund a summer intern. And they allow you, the reader, to show your support for the work done by The Voice to cover the Jewish community of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. Our small, hard-working staff is dedicated to giving a voice to our community.

There are several ways to donate. It’s easier than ever to donate online at Click on the donate button at the top of the home page. If you want to donate by check, send to The Jewish Voice, Patron Campaign, 401 Elmgrove Ave., Providence, R.I. 02906.

To those who have already donated, we say thank you! To those who are thinking about a donation, we appreciate your consideration. Our patrons and our readers are important to the community and the paper - and we hope you think we are important enough to donate generously.