Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

January 10, 2013

Let's set the record straight on the Townsman

Al Getler

---- — A news sense is really a sense of what is important, what is vital, what has color and life - what people are interested in. That’s journalism.

– Burton Rascoe

The Andover Townsman is dedicated to the color and life of Andover. It always has been and it always will be. The Andover Townsman reports what is important to the people that live in Andover and practices a brand of journalism called local or even hyper-local.

Hometown son, late night host, and comedian, Jay Leno, once said something like this during a local appearance: “If a huge earthquake happened in China, The New York Times would have a headline that read ‘Death and destruction in China.’ But the Andover Townsman would read ‘Jim and Mary Johnson had quite a shake on their China vacation.’”

Mr. Leno’s good natured ribbing is well deserved. The Townsman covers the people of Andover from an Andover perspective and we are proud of our stance.

The importance

of local newspapers

Growing up in New Jersey I learned how important a local newspaper is to a community.

My dad was a volunteer fireman, a planning board member, a township committeeman and eventually the mayor of our New York City suburban town. The characteristics of Andover and where I grew up are similar with the exception that Andover grew larger and faster.

With six kids and an active mother, it was not unusual for one of us and especially our father to end up in the newspaper. Dad didn’t always agree with what was said, but he typically felt our town issues received fair coverage. He taught me the process that makes a town work fairly and democratically including the importance of newspaper coverage. I can only remember one time he wasn’t happy at all with what he read in the newspaper.

In 1978, my student council friends and I staged a walkout of the entire student body of our regional high school. We gave speeches about the loss of young teachers due to budget cuts and, after some time passed by, returned peacefully to class. It was my interview in the newspaper that set the old man off. It put the heat on him, but it was democracy at its finest!

The fate of

the Andover Townsman

In November and December of this past year, a large number of Andover citizens signed a petition to maintain funding to the Townsman. Lead by three well known and active members of the Andover community, they called on our parent company to return funding to the Andover Townsman.

The passion shown for our newspaper gave Editor Neil Fater and me a lot to be thankful for over the holiday season. As two people who have dedicated the majority of our lives to newspapering, it is inspiring to know that you, our readers, care that much about what we do. But let’s set the record straight.

The Andover Townsman continues to be Andover’s newspaper and will be for a long time to come. To state it again clearly; we are not going anywhere and we are certainly not going out of business. Not on my watch. That record is now set straight.

Newspapers, as I am sure you realize, are businesses. They have the same fiduciary responsibility to their ownership as does any business. They must be profitable and the Andover Townsman is profitable. It makes money. It doesn’t lose money. That record is now set straight.

The Andover Townsman is a sister newspaper of The Eagle-Tribune. The majority of the services that produce the newspaper are housed in North Andover as are the services to the other sister papers throughout the North of Boston Media Group.

It is simply good business to centralize what you can while keeping the content local. This makes for a better business and, as mentioned, a newspaper is a business. So, yes, we do a lot of what we do to bring you the newspaper in our North Andover building. Some day it all could be done there. That has nothing to do with how well we produce our newspaper. That record is now set straight.

There has been plenty written about the impending death of newspapers. The economy for local and regional newspapers is challenging, but there are many businesses faced with challenges right now. A newspaper depends on advertising revenue primarily and circulation revenue secondarily. The Andover Townsman is no different.

Occasionally someone tosses me a jab about the newspaper being a little thin. My answer is crass, but direct. I tell them to buy an ad. We can’t fill your newspaper with news unless advertisers fill it with ads. Support local businesses instead of clicking to buy that next item. In turn, they will have dollars to invest in advertising. It is a virtuous circle. That record is now set straight.

We love what we do

Neil Fater, Dustin Luca and Judy Wakefield love gathering and reporting the news for you. At times, they will get and give an assist to their colleagues at The Eagle-Tribune.

Pauline Fountaine is on the street each day selling ads. Buy one, heck, buy a lot of ads from her. She will even sell you online, mobile and glossy magazines to round out your message. She is an expert at growing your business or event.

Newspaper people are doomed. We are bitten by the bug. We love what we do and are passionate about it. Andoverites are passionate about their local news and demand coverage from their local newspaper. They love their town.

The Andover Townsman and the people of Andover are joined at the hip. As long as you don’t give up on us, we will not give up on you. That record is now set straight.

Al Getler is publisher of the Andover Townsman and The Eagle-Tribune. He can be reached at 978-946-2110 or at