READ ME: A year in the life of the Examiner


At Cantina Lobos, the staff and alumni of the Pelham Examiner celebrated a print edition, state awards and the end of a difficult but successful year.

Thirty-one staffers and alumni of the Pelham Examiner assembled July 19 at Cantina Lobos for their first get together since the pandemic began—and then some. Earlier in the day, I posted this note to the staff in a channel called Read Me in Pelham Examiner’s Slack:


A year ends. A year begins. We get the summer to rest a bit, recharge and think.

I worked for CNN in the late 1980s. The newsroom computer system was all text-based. No desktop, images or icons. What we now call folders or directories were named queues. One of those queues was read-me. CNN had around 2,000 journalists around the world at that point. When top producers and management wanted to get out important information, it would go in read-me. Breaking news. Advisories on important live events. Style changes. A message would blink in the top corner of my screen when something new went in the queue. I stole the name for this Slack channel. Admittedly, it is a command. It’s meant to get your attention.

Read me.

Read! Me!

Over the past year, all of you made the Pelham Examiner a read me, though not in the sense of some boss’s order, but to use the more conventional phrase, a must read. You did this by covering the massive story everywhere around us—and this you did so very well. You also made sure your community newspaper wrote about everything else it needed to cover. The paper told readers about key decisions by government and the schools, covered the racial equity audit in the school district and the examinations of structural racism in both villages’ police departments and reported on business and the economy. It offered sports, reviews, letters, opinions. Features on interesting people and intriguing events. Obituaries.

But there was always the daily drumbeat of Covid-19. The seemingly endless changes to school schedules, which affected you all directly. News features that won awards. Others just as strong that got inside different aspects of this once-in-a-century public health emergency. I have said this before, but as I’m known for repeating myself, I will say it again: I was blown away by how you all stuck to the job. It is not easy to cover the thing that’s ruining your life. The work was so good, over such a long period, while things were miserable. Determination matters as much as sentence structure in journalism.

At the end of that long year: a print edition of the Pelham Examiner.

In the past 12 months, you built up a great small-town newspaper. Some might quibble with that modifier “small town,” for its hint of the closed mindedness and parochialism of such places, real and fictional. Community newspapers—small-town newspapers—absolutely do things big city papers do not. The new school being built, the winning of a high school league championship, the debate about what racial equity in the schools will look like, the heroism of Pelham professionals and everyday people in the face of a relentless disease. I love small-town newspapers. If you read the awards story or were at the pop-up awards presentation, you heard about some of the great ones around this state. You put the Examiner in their league.

A hail and farewell to the graduates! Those who were were editors, who were the paper’s leaders, worked a long, long, grinding year. They did not know that was what they would face when they said they’d take the jobs. I couldn’t have warned them. There is true grit in you, a dedication to the job that will carry you far.

Thank you, graduates, for everything you did for the Examiner:

Thank you also to last year’s editors who remain with the paper—and are doing new jobs. They also dealt with a long-march of a year and have hard work before them, though, I hope, nothing like Covid’s first 15 months.

Finally, to the reporters. The world, society, Pelham has an obsession with titles. Put simply, without reporters, there is no paper. A newsroom without them is empty space, and a paper without them is blank newsprint. Thank you for the hundreds of stories across a wide range of coverage areas, some I’ve mentioned, some I haven’t. They’re all there on the website. They are why this paper is so strong.

For those reasons, all of you made the Pelham Examiner a READ ME!