Understanding the role of a newspaper, especially in this age of social media and traditional media disruption, is an exciting one.
News collection and dissemination is expanding. And it is more important than ever that the public be invited into the machinations of creating and presenting the news.
That's what I loved about this week's issue, where we have labeled and explained different elements of the paper and how they fit into a cogent whole.
While simplistic, how we get along as a society is linked to our understanding of how our different organizational systems work together. Understanding the essential role of local newspapers is foundational to that knowledge.
That's what's lovely about reprinting these bits of history curated on the occasion of the paper's 25th Anniversary in 2001. It explains our founders' belief that a local newspaper and The River Reporter in particular, is an integral partner, player and potential facilitator of civic and constructive dialogue.
With this, we reach back to two final reflections. The first is by Beth Peck, president of the Board of Trustees for Tusten Times, Inc., the original publishers of The River Reporter. (It's rather prophetic as transitioning to a not-for-profit organization is something that we are considering today.)
This second reflection was written by the late TRR Reporter Tom Kane in 2001. Beyond his reporting duties, Kane staffed the award-winning Visioning the Upper Delaware Committee, which was instrumental in establishing the Callicoon Farmers’ Market and public access to the Yellow Dot Trail at the Ten Mile River Scout Camp. Kane interviewed Elaine Giguere, whose efforts brought the paper to life in 1975.
In the Beginning
By BETH PECK
The River Reporter began a s a non-profit organization formed to provide broad local coverage of the many activities connected with the:1975-1976 Centennial. The late Tom DeGaetani gathered together a group of: interested local townspeople as the first board.
Tom and his wife, Elaine Giguere, gathered the news, Elaine typed it; then the two of them put the newspaper together and arranged for printing. Since costs of operation came totally from subscriptions, newsstand sales and donations, there were some memorable times when it was necessary to solicit additional donations in order to get the paper printed, especially as the volume of news began to exceed the number of pages planned.
My hope for the paper's future is to see expanded local coverage, with emphasis on the rich diversity of the residents and local color of our beautiful river valley.
Giguere remembers TRR inception and growth
AN INTERVIEW BY TOM KANE
NARROWSBURG -- Few people along the river valley are in a better position to recall The River Reporter’s baby steps, and subsequent growth, than Elaine Giguere. The Executive Director of the Narrowsburg-based Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA) was married to the man who was the paper’s founder and first editor—Tom DeGaetani.
DeGaetani leaped into local journalism when Claude Hector, who owned Delaware Publications and ran a local newspaper called the Delaware News-Times, sold to The Eagle in Hawley.
"The paper came about when we all had Bicentennial fever in 1975, and wanted to get a hometown spirit going." It was meant to be a community forum and not necessarily a newspaper," said Giguere. It ran open forums on issues in the community, like the proposal by Conrail to abandon freight service along the river valley, which never materialized. "The newspaper was a way of stimulating the forums," she said, adding, “We held the meetings in the present Lion's Den on Main Street.”
The River Reporter was set up as a membership organization, in an effort to keep clear of control by advertisers who might be unhappy about news coverage, Giguere said. It was a safe way to begin. The first issue, she recalled, was four pages long.
She worked on the newspaper with her husband until his death in 1978. At that point, Giguere took over leadership of the DVAA, another project started by her husband. “The newspaper business was a little too stressful for me, so I willingly got out of it," she said.
The management team of Glenn Pontier and Laurie Stuart took over. Pontier became the publication’s second editor, and the paper grew to around 12 pages, according to Giguere.
"Glenn took off with it, doing a lot of writing and editing even when Tom was alive," Giguere said. During Pontier’s tenure, The River Reporter played a major role in the controversy that arose around the presence of the National Park Service (NPS) and the adoption of the River Management Plan for the Upper Delaware Wild and Scenic Recreational River. "The paper had a big role to play in keeping people informed about what was and what was not true," she said.
Pontier resigned as editor in January of 1995 and became the News Director of WVOS radio. He is currently press representative of the Gerry Foundation.
Assistant Editor Pamela Chergotis took over as editor until October 1998 when she left the paper to teach English in Istanbul. General Manager Laurie Stuart assumed the role at that time.
According to Giguere, The River Reporter has played an important role in the development of the area round the river valley, and has been a major influence in promoting a broad tolerance among all residents for accepting events or lifestyles that could be perceived as foreign.
"A newspaper brings a sophistication to a region because it provides a vehicle for people to express their views or to change their views and The River Reporter had eminently done that," she said.