Archives

Valley Patriot Celebrates 100th Edition

 

Valley Patirot's 100th Edition

Valley Patirot’s 100th Edition

Looking Back at 8 Years And

100 Editions of Exclusive News And Views!

 

February – 2012

Looking Back On Our First Edition

First Edition, March 2004

The Valley Patriot’s Very First Edition, March 2004

Next month The Valley Patriot will celebrate our 8th anniversary. It’s quite a milestone considering that the experts in the industry and the local pundits predicted our doom from day one belly laughed when we announced the unveiling of “real newspaper”. In the next edition we will reprint some of our best stories and submissions over the last eight years (as we have done in part one of our two month milestone of celebrations.

This month, just one month shy of our eight year anniversary, hit an even bigger milestone. This edition of the Valley Patriot that you are holding in your hand is our 100th edition.

We have covered lot of news stories , printed a lot of columns and conducted numerous investigative reports since then. We’ve had many honors and awards bestowed upon us and along the way we’ve taken our share of hits.

Yes it’s been a wild ride for sure.

Shootings, stabbings, political corruption, fires, political campaigns, lengthy and substantive debates about taxes, public policy, educational concepts, and saving puppies…. You could say we’ve seen it all.

But, through nearly eight years and 100 editions we have published we are most proud of being able to educate the public about what is going on around them and hopefully making them better and more involved citizens.

We are constantly asked how we do it? How do we produce a paper this size every and grow consistently every month?

It’s because thither newspapers have editorial agendas that they weave into their news coverage, and we don’t. They slant their news to create good guys nd bad guys, and we don’t’. They have sacred cows among elected and appointed officials whom they protect and refuse to expose when involved in wrongdoing.

We do not.

OUR GOAL IN 2004

We had a lot of dreams and expectations when the first edition of The Valley Patriot rolled off the printing presses at Graphic Development in Hanover, MA back in March of 2004. We had already sold enough advertising to sustain the paper for six month by the time our first edition hit the streets. But we had no idea the avalanche of adversities who would seek us out as we moved forward.

A special thank you to Keith Wlodyka of the Daily Dose Café at Sal’s Riverwalk (formerly the owner of Tower Hill Variety) for advertising with us in our very first edition and committing to staying with us even before we had a product to show him. So too did Leo Lamontagne of Leo’s Auto in South Lawrence. Not only has Leo been an advertiser since the very first edition but he has stayed with us through every edition of our 100 issues (except one month when I forgot him)

With solid support from the business community behind us we set out to create a newspaper that would serve those in the community who had no voice. We wanted to open up our paper to those who were prohibited by local editorial boards (like the Eagle Tribune) from expressing their opinions the way they wanted to. We don’t edit letters to the editor, other newspapers do. We don’t change any content in article or column submissions, they do. And we don’t choose what to print and what not to print based on the opinion being expressed. We don’t care whether a writer wants to trash us or disagree with our views on an issue.

We believe our job is to give you the vehicle to express yourselves and let others dispute and debate it in their own letters and columns if they so choose.

We also believe our job is to tell the story of our local veterans, police officers and firefighters in every edition. It’s something sorely lacking in local newspapers given the heroism these individuals are (or were) involved in.

We were determined from day one, to be a newspaper that would investigate and report, not make up stories to embarrass public figures that we don’t like.

But as determined and optimistic as we were, we never dreamed that the little, 16 page leaflet we were calling a “newspaper”, would become as large or as successful as it has become today.

We never dreamed that advertisers from all over New England would be calling us in such large volume that we would have to hire sales girls to handle them. We couldn’t have imagined employing delivery drivers every month, or editors, photographers, a local political cartoonist, ad designers, distribution contractors, or warehouse workers.

. We knew the potential was huge, but we never thought that we would have contracts with superstores like Market Baskets, Big Lots, Sal’s Pizza, Hannaford’s Supermarket or CVS.

And we certainly never foresaw the day when an angel would drop out of the sky (as it happened back in 2007), when we met the (now) icon and mascot of The Valley Patriot: PuppyGirl, Kate Whitney from Boxford (page 31).

That first month in 2004, we published a sixteen page newspaper that encapsulated everything we knew other newspapers were lacking. We printed 2,000 papers and we delivered to a total of 25 locations in Lawrence, Andover, North Andover, and Methuen.

Today we deliver to 35 cities and towns, average about 48 pages per edition, and have between 20-25,000 readers every month.

In fact, starting this month we begin delivering to eight new communities in the North Central Massachusetts: Gardner, Leominster, Fitchburg, Townsend, Westminster, Hubbardston, Templeton, and Winchendon.

HOW WE GOT HERE: THE TRIBUNE TAKES A PASS ON THE STORY OF THE YEAR

The concept for the Valley Patriot was born as the result of an experience I had with the Eagle Tribune in the fall of 2003.

Thanks to an anonymous source, I had come into possession of various receipts and sign-off sheets from the Lawrence School Department showing that five Lawrence School Committee members (Noah Shannon, Pedro Arce, Suzanne Piscitello, Nancy Kennedy and George Gonzalez) had all dined out with Superintendent WilfredoLaboy and his staff after school board meetings.

They had run up tabs worth over $1,200.00. The receipts and expense reports showed that the school committee members who were dining out, were also members of the finance committee and signed off on their own expenses so nobody would find out.

In other words, School Board members who had the responsibility to go through the school department bills and make sure there was no inappropriate spending, were using money slated for Lawrence School Children and stuffing their faces at the most expensive restaurant in Lawrence: One Mill Street.

I made copies of the documents, verified their authenticity, and gave them to a friend at the Eagle~Tribune thinking, as bias as they are, this story was just too big to screw up or to pass up. Especially, since I had done all their homework for them.

But the response I got from my mole at the Trib was, to say the least, astonishing.

“They aren’t running the story.”

“What? Why?”

“They love WilfredoLaboy”

“They do? Well, what the hell does that have to do with anything? These people are stealing money from school children, and stuffing their faces. That’s not a story?”

“They said they aren’t writing any story that makes him look bad, sorry dude, I tried. Believe me. He’s a sacred cow.”

It takes a lot to surprise me, even more to make me stunned. But at that point I was beyond incredulous. I hung up the phone and said to the person next to me; “I’ve had enough. If the Trib’s going to cover up a story like this to protect their sacred cow, just imagine what else they are covering up. We need to start our own newspaper.”

With the vision and assistance of Dr. Chuck Ormsby, Ralph Wilbur and others, we set in motion a plan to create our own newspaper with the one goal of, winning over readers by simply publishing the truth. We figured, as long as we don’t do what all the other newspapers were doing, we couldn’t fail. And our strategy worked.

When the very first headline hit the streets eight years ago, the headline read: “School Committee Bills Taxpayers for Fine Dining” (see full story: page 34).

NEXT MONTH: We will celebrate our 8th anniversary and we will continue to republish some of our best stories and submissions.

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan is president and publisher of The Valley Patriot Newspaper in North Andover Massachusetts, a former Lawrence School Committeeman, former political director for Mass. Citizens Alliance, a 1990 Police Survivor and hosts the Paying Attention! Radio Program on 980WCAP in Lowell, Massachusetts. You can email your comments to valleypatriot@aol.com.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookFlickrYouTube

Leave a Reply