First, a heartfelt thanks to our many readers who have reached out to us with praise and appreciation for the steps we have been taking to make our print and digital publications a more informative and engaging community resource.
Now we are asking for your help in the next phase of our improvement efforts; please respond to a new survey designed to help us get a better sense of how our readers interact with our newspapers and website. Our intent is to discover what our readers most enjoy and what we could be doing better. In hopes that as many voices as possible will be heard, the survey has also been designed for non-readers—and sporadic readers—to complete as well. The more information we gather, the better able we will be to continue our efforts to make our papers—and their online counterpart, currently in the throes of re-design—vital and integral resources for our communities.
It has been 20 years or so since the names Tara Barnwell, Michael Moffat, Elinor Vincent and Darla Youngs have appeared together on the masthead of “The Freeman’s Journal.” A confluence of events perhaps regarded by some as a perfect storm—or an imperfect storm, by others—has brought us all together again.
“The Freeman’s Journal” is arguably one of the oldest weekly newspapers in the nation. Founded by Judge William Cooper, it began as the “Impartial Observer” in 1808 with publisher William Andrews. A year later, both the name of the paper and the publisher had changed, becoming the “Cooperstown Federalist” under the direction of John H. Prentiss. The newspaper’s flag finally stuck in 1817 and has remained “The Freeman’s Journal” ever since. The Journal’s sister newspaper, “Hometown Oneonta,” is a mere babe in the woods by comparison at just 15 years old.
Since 1921, “The Freeman’s Journal” has sponsored a Christmas Fund drive to help our local families in need, assisting them in putting clothes on their children, food on their tables and presents under their trees at a time when it seemed the holiday season would leave them bereft and out of the festive swirl of things. The fund was created by Rowan D. Spraker, Sr., then the editor and publisher of “The Freeman’s Journal,” and it was intended as a Christmas gift to area residents in need who were unable to provide a holiday for their children, families, and, in some instances, animals.
Spraker no doubt got his decidedly brilliant idea from “The New York Times,” whose publisher in 1911, Adolph S. Ochs, was out on a walk on Christmas Day and met a man in tattered clothes. The man told Ochs that although he had been able to have a meal at the YMCA, he had nowhere to sleep that night. Ochs decided that The Times should use its pages to give back to its community, and the following year the paper published 100 short accounts of people who were struggling to provide for themselves and their families. The agencies that were already helping these people were mentioned, and the Times suggested that its readers donate to those organizations. It worked, and today the New York Times Neediest Cases Fund is still going strong, helping the city’s neediest—and others around the globe—to the tune of $330 million since its beginning.
Iron String Press, the parent company of “The Freeman’s Journal,” “Hometown Oneonta” and “AllOtsego.com,” has hired Darla M. Youngs as general manager. Youngs joins Publisher Tara Barnwell and her team as the organization seeks to revitalize its newspapers, revamp its website and reestablish its connection with the communities it serves.
“We are so fortunate to have Darla join us,” Tara Barnwell, Publisher, said. “She brings a wealth of knowledge from her previous newspaper experience, everything from design and production to sharp editing skills.”
Youngs, who hails from Bouckville originally, has a long history covering the news and addressing issues important to Otsego County.
The March 17 edition of The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta includes a look at local reaction to New York’s new retail pot dispensary regulations … whether giant spiders are headed our way … tips on taking care of your pupper’s paws … thoughts on botany … helpful March Madness bracket hints … Merl Reagle’s fantastic crossword puzzle … and more! Subscribers will see all our stories on-line at allotsego.com.
Available now, this week’s print edition of The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta, featuring the stories we’re adding this morning for our on-line readers — plus this week’s Merl Reagle crossword puzzle, a take on the whole Major League Baseball kerfuffle courtesy of Babe Ruth’s grandson, letters to the editor, and the joy of holding a printed newspaper in your hands. Subscribe now!