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The Bay Weekly Story

Will there be a surprise ending?
Editor and publisher Sandra Olivetti Martin
     Every story has a beginning. Bay Weekly’s is now so long ago that it has to begin Once upon a time …
      Once upon a time a family, transported to Chesapeake Country and agreeing as Capt. John Smith said, “that heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for [hu]man habitation,” we imagined that if you wrote well about that “very goodly Bay,” people would read your stories.
     So we — son Alex Knoll, husband Bill Lambrecht and I — decided to take up the only trade we knew well, journalism, and create a newspaper.
      That was the beginning of New Bay Times, which became New Bay Times Weekly and since the millennium, Bay Weekly.
     Every story has a middle. Aristotle taught that a drama ought to unfold over a single day. But most plots need some time to develop: fold, unfold, circle back on themselves, meet hurdles and rise at least part way over them, add new characters and complications …
      Bay Weekly’s plot has developed over 26 years. Exploring Chesapeake Country, each week we’ve found new stories, met new characters and persuaded new advertisers that this paper could indeed help them prosper in their business. Plots and characters have risen into the thousands; words into the millions; advertisers — every one is worth their weight in gold.
      That we I’m talking about is a big word. The paper we created — a new voice eager to tell stories of sustainability in solutions and successes and inviting all comers to try their hand at working with us — drew contributors like a light draws moths. Hang out a white sheet under a light on a warm evening, and you’ll see the kind of wonderful diversity drawn into the light to be part of that big we. 
      Bill Burton was our Luna moth: our biggest catch. There we were, typing and pasting away in our shoebox office at the back of Tri-State Marine in Deale, when in walked The Evening Sun’s recently retired outdoors editor of three decades, a luminary of sports writers. We slapped ourselves to get over the shock, then said, Yes sir, Mr. Burton, you can write for us. (A few years later, that same office hosted Gov. Parris Glendening, who asked for an interview with our editorial board during a hard election campaign.)
      Along with Burton, we’ve attracted aspiring photojournalists who’ve since made big names for themselves … college graduates temporarily at loose ends in the wide world … journalism pros breaking into a new market … high-schoolers smitten with words … mothers who found their nests empty and mothers thrilled to claim — in precious kids-at-school hours — an identity for themselves … journalism students seeking to make their reputation story by story … doctors and lawyers wanting to develop another aspect of themselves … professionals bringing their expertise to special areas, like gardening, fishing, theater and movies … and retirees experimenting with lives they’d never lived. For runs short and long, we have been all those people.
      We are also all the people who’ve made the even deeper commitment to join their lives with Bay Weekly, working with us in house day after day to make the paper you read. Production manager Betsy Kehne came to us a quarter century ago and made Bay Weekly her career. Of all the other great people who’ve worked with us, our current staff may be the very best ever: journalists Kathy Knotts and Krista Boughey and ad reps and extraordinary women Audrey Broomfield, Susan Nolan and Donna Day.
      On the road for us every week — heat, snow or hurricane — are absolutely dedicated delivery drivers Tom Tearman; the team of Jim Lyles and Peggy Traband; Bill Visnansky; Rick Hackenberg and newly arrived Dave Ronk.
     We — that very big word — have all collaborated on Bay Weekly’s long plot. 
     You’ve been just as big a part of it, for there would have been no we without you. Telling yourself a story is a fine thing, but it doesn’t get you far. You’ve got to have a medium to take you to an audience to make that story real in the world. Without you, the 20,000 copies of Bay Weekly we print each week would have sat in giant moldering stacks of waste paper. Every story we tell, we tell to you. Every paper we make, we make for you.
      Every good story has an end. You want it to be full of drama and with a good resolution of all that’s come before. We hope we can provide you that, in what will be the final chapter of Bay Weekly as we know it. At the end of this year, Bay Weekly will retire.
      We’ve had a great run, told a wealth of tales, made a lifetime of friends and have a team that makes this one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever faced.
     We have hopes of finding a new owner to carry on the legacy of Bay Weekly. We’ve engaged a media broker in that effort, and who can say, maybe you know of someone who would like to make Bay Weekly their own …
      In the meantime, we will spend the next three months doing what we’ve always done — as well as or better than ever. We have a file cabinet full of stories yet to tell. We have our annual Seasons Bounty Holiday Guide, our special Christmas issue and, of course, Best of the Bay. Plus these next three months are the time when advertisers rely on us the most to reach our 60,000 weekly readers.
      This also gives us time to celebrate what Bay Weekly has achieved, to thank our advertisers with the biggest sale in Bay Weekly history and to give our staff time to find new footing.
     We hope we can rely on your support continuing our long conversation. Please share your thoughts: [email protected]