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Christmas Comes Early to Bay Weekly

And to you, thanks to ­Chesapeake Bay Media

Two months ago, I told you that the story of Bay Weekly as we know it was coming to an end.
    Founders J. Alex Knoll, Bill Lambrecht and I — my family — had turned on a bright idea and poured 26 and one half years into keeping it powered. Exploring Chesapeake Country, weekly for 1,355 issues we have found new stories, met new characters and persuaded new advertisers that our paper could indeed help them prosper in their business. Week by week, we created our legacy.
    If this was the point at which it ended, we’d be joining the parade of 2,000 — the count is always changing — local newspapers that had fallen — since we entered this new century.
    If it stretched into an unanticipated future, well that might feel like Santa Claus had come to town.
    Santa keeps his own schedule, so we resolved to invest every last resource to keeping our door open until year’s end. In so many ways, you have strengthened our resolve and enriched our resources.
    Back in that Editor’s Letter on September 30 — which appeared in our annual Retirement Guide — I wrote that we hoped our ending would be “full of drama and with a good resolution of all that’s come before.” Until then, we’d give you the best papers we could make. I left you with the kind of ending that’s called a cliffhanger.

Santa Claus Has Come to Town

    Now I feel like a kid on Christmas morning telling you the just-made news that, come January 1, 2020, Bay Weekly will live on under the care of Chesapeake Bay Media. We’ll be the first print weekly to join the multi-media company famous as the publishers of Chesapeake Bay Magazine.
    That 48-year-old glossy sets the standard for Chesapeake Country journalism; we’ve read and looked up to it since before Bay Weekly was born.
    It’s both smart and beautiful, with stories a Bay-lover can’t resist reading — like John Page Williams’ recent tour of Eastern Shore rivers — and pages and photos that are works of art. Its journalists, artists — and yes, its ad salespeople — are professionals.
    Its geography is also encompassing, covering the whole Bay watershed.
    Chesapeake Bay Magazine is just one of the ways Chesapeake Bay Media tells the story of the Bay. Online, its Bay Bulletin is a full electronic weekly with news, features, columns and calendar. Breaking-news updates are reported as they happen with subscribers alerted by e-blast.
    Bay Bulletin uses its online identity smartly, in ways I’ve long believed help write the formula for 21st century success. It tells and delivers its stories in multiple media. So you can, for example, jump from a story to a video — all the work of multimedia journalist Cheryl Costello.
    And how about this: Most readers peruse Bay Bulletin on their phones, news director Meg ­Walburn Viviano tells me. I use my phone for a lot, but it’s not how I like to read my news.
    Of course since 1998 you’ve been able to read Bay Weekly online, though we don’t translate so well to phone format.
    Despite where you’re reading it, what you’re reading in Bay Bulletin — which like Bay Weekly is free (sign up at ChesapeakeBayMagazine.com) — sounds a lot like what you read in Bay Weekly, doesn’t it?
    Chesapeake Bay Media partners CEO John Martino and publisher John Stefancik saw another strength in Bay Weekly.
    “It’s the connection you have with your community that’s most appealing to John Martino and me,” Stefancik said. “It’s how you consistently published for many years with that deep connection. At the end of the day, everybody wants information about what’s closest around them. Local news is the news and information that matters the most.”
    I’m pretty proud to tell you that because of the link you have with us and we have with you, Bay Weekly will keep coming your way in 2020 and for many years to come.
    Local connection is where the expansive ­Chesapeake Bay Media — with its vast territory and resources — wants its next move.
    “We have many channels,” Stefancik continued, “but we don’t have one as local as you are. We want to connect people to the Chesapeake in every way possible, and we have not been able to do that as locally as you do.”
    As I’ve told you so often before, you make our Bay Weekly partnership sustainable. Without you reading, our stories and advertisers’ notices fall on deaf ears.
    Now you’ll have to help keep Bay Weekly’s local connection vital and renewed each week.
    “I want to hear what readers say. What they like and why they pick up Bay Weekly,” Viviano — who’ll be taking over in 2020 — told me as we pored over Bay Weekly together in my office.
    Email her your answers to those questions and your story ideas at ­[email protected]

In with the New — and the Old

    Yes, there will be some new names and faces bringing you Bay Weekly in 2020. But many of those you’ve known, worked with and depended on will also be making the move.
    What would happen to our staff has all along been as important to us as what would happen to Bay Weekly itself. Apparently, our friends at Chesapeake Bay Media hold them in the same high regard and have invited them to continue on this new chapter.
    I and soon-to-be-former general manager Alex Knoll will lend a hand long enough to ensure a smooth transition.
    But all that’s the future. ­December of 2019 remains ours to enjoy together.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
[email protected], www.sandraolivettimartin.com