For 12 years of what now feels like a previous life, I was the managing editor of a niche monthly outdoor recreation magazine. The magazine had a small but loyal following, which had more to do with the tight-knit community created by the founding editor who came before me. Over 20 years, he had created a quirky, indispensable, regional publication imbued with his personality and interests.
As an acolyte of my late predecessor’s magazine, I embraced his legacy, shared his philosophy put parted ways from his limited artistry. On my watch, the magazine was dramatically transformed. The newsprint pages, with a sparing amount of spot color, gave way to glossy full-color pages, cover to cover. The events calendar migrated online and was searchable in myriad ways.
I left that magazine more than six years ago, and it has seen several editors since. Only recently did a columnist I recruited take over the monthly and restore its core thrust and promise. Until then, I cringed when seeing a copy. The reduction in the number of pages, not to mention the return to newsprint, broke my heart a little bit more every time I picked up a copy.
“How ironic,” you might be thinking if you’re a long-time reader of The Milton Courier. I get it, believe me. A few weeks ago I added the title of managing editor of this weekly community newspaper to the same title and responsibilities I’ve shouldered at the daily Janesville Gazette since early June. The Courier has not been the same since my takeover. In fact, you might be among those who have reached out to ask, “What’s going on with the Courier?”
Allow me to explain.
For the last few years, Becky Kanable ran herself ragged writing most of the stories and designing the pages every week. Before she resigned and after the closing of the paper’s downtown Milton office more than a year ago, Becky worked out of The Gazette newsroom. Now production of the Courier is even more closely aligned with the Gazette (both newspapers are owned by Adams Publishing Group), with reporters and page designers for the daily contributing their talents to the weekly.
Attentive readers of both newspapers over the past few weeks will have noticed some news stories—namely those about Milton people, places and events—appearing in both publications. On one hand, I do want to share with Courier readers the Milton stories written by the Gazette’s reporters, many of which are worthy of appearing on the front pages of both publications. On the other hand, I want to make sure that both publications remain distinct and respectful of their individual readerships.
I do expect some stories will continue to appear in both newspapers, however. That will be as much a reflection of the boundaries between the communities of Janesville and Milton blurring as a result of limited journalistic resources. But I want to assure Courier readers that I aim to fill these pages with more stories that you will not find elsewhere, not even in The Gazette. Let it be known that I’m looking for new Milton-based writers to add their insights and bylines to those you are already accustomed to seeing—such as Pam Beres and Leanne Lippincott-Wuerthele.
In this issue, I’m pleased to restore a history column written by Doug Welch, who himself served as editor of The Milton Courier for 21 years. He has kindly and diplomatically informed me of his history with the newspaper and what he was able to do with the limited resources available to him back then. (Frankly, he sounds like me telling my successor at the magazine I used to oversee how I got things done.) I greatly value Mr. Welch’s insight, I honor his legacy at this newspaper and I am thrilled that he is still willing to ensure it remains an informative and compelling read.
The Milton Courier is in transition. While this remains the case, I ask only that you bear with us as we find our way to delivering the weekly newspaper Milton residents expect and deserve. If you have ideas, requests or demands as to what your newspaper should look like, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
Joel Patenaude is managing editor of The Milton Courier and The Gazette.