A farewell message to our readers
or the past week I've tried to write dispassionately
about the terrible budget cuts that are forcing the closure of the
Chronicle, but after 17 years with the paper, I feel as if there's
been a death in the family.
the three weeks since the Chronicle topped the chancellor's initial
list of budget cuts, my staff and I have come to realize that the
sense of overwhelming loss we feel is shared by many people on and
off campus. Faculty, retirees, classified and professional staff,
legislators, and alumni have called or written to express their
appreciation for our work and to share our sadness that, with this
issue, it is coming to an end.
its early years, the Chronicle was a weekly experiment in institutional
communication. There was, quite rightly, a great deal of suspicion
about the "administration paper" and its reporting. As
time passed and administrations changed, the Chronicle developed
into something different than most in-house organs. We were allowed
a level of autonomy to report the news in a straightforward, fair
and even-handed manner. With our credibility established, the Chronicle
became an important counterpoint to the student paper and provided
readers with a campus perspective on issues often ignored in the
recent years, I have sometimes described the Chronicle as published
by the administration, but "owned" by its readers, who
suggested stories, wrote letters, criticized or praised our work,
and embraced the idea of a community newspaper that served all campus
employees. As our 1997 readership survey showed, 90 percent of the
readers - and 100 percent of administrators - said they were better
informed about campus news and information by reading the paper.
And 90 percent of those surveyed rated the Chronicle excellent or
success is the product of a talented staff, including founding editor
Michael E.C. Gery, whose vision guided the paper through its early
years, and our two veterans, photographer Stan Sherer and office
manager Chris Davies. Along with being the Chronicle's goodwill
ambassador, Stan has attracted a legion of fans with his amazing
ability to capture striking images of life on campus. Chris is the
backbone of the Chronicle operation. She kept the books, put the
finishing touches on layout, ordered supplies, managed a succession
of computer systems, learned mind-numbing People-Soft protocols,
submitted travel vouchers, maintained our mailing and distribution
lists and produced the Weekly Bulletin and Campus Calendar pages
each week. I also am deeply grateful for the invaluable assistance
and backup provided by associate editor Sarah Buchholz and former
assistant editors Beth Goldstein, Christina Lillios, Rob Galvin
and Mal Provost. Without them, I would never have had a vacation.
heartfelt thanks also to the "Friends of the Chronicle,"
who are listed in an item below. This group supported us in a variety
of ways, including earlier this month when many of them bombarded
the chancellor with eloquent pleas to preserve their community newspaper.
our readers reminded us, information is a commodity within large
organizations. In a place as balkanized and Byzantine as UMass Amherst
can be, the Chronicle has been the "town green," a central
point for discussion and debate or simply staying informed about
what's happening on the other side of campus.
of our friends, professor emeritus of Classics Elizabeth Will, recently
summed up her feelings about the Chronicle:
think I've never been associated with a university that is less
unified in spirit. I was in the Faculty Senate and on the Graduate
Council and several university committees, but I honestly never
felt I was in the same institution as the scientists, engineers,
etc., whom I sometimes met. At Penn State, a comparable institution,
Texas, and Iowa, however, there was much more solidarity. For once
each week, you made UMass, too, seem like a single institution."
cannot think of higher praise for what the Chronicle staff and I
have done for the last 717 issues. It was an honor to serve you.
Daniel J. Fitzgibbons, editor