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Message from the editor: Reflecting on a year of Brookline.News

May 21, 2024

A year, already?

Last Thursday, we filled the Coolidge Corner Theatre with more than 400 of our friends and supporters to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Brookline.News with some stirring storytelling from community members.

For all of us at Brookline.News, it was a thrill to absorb that energy and witness how a robust source of local news can foster a sense of community.

Around this time in 2023, we launched this publication to fill a void left behind by the hollowing out of local newspapers that had made Brookline, of all places, a news desert.

Support Brookline.News

Hi, this is Sam Mintz, the editor of Brookline.News. Thanks so much for reading our work and supporting us during our first year. In our next year, we want to expand our journalism to cover more of the subjects you care about, and write stories that go more in-depth into life in Brookline. But to do that, we need your help. Please consider making a tax deductible donation this spring to help us grow.

You were hungry for local news and willing to trust that our founders could satisfy that hunger. Thanks to your generosity, nine short months after the steering committee first met in July 2022, they had raised enough money to hire a founding editor (me!) and start publishing.

It’s a joy to be part of something new and successful in an industry where these days the usual story is the opposite.

Over the past year, our list of email subscribers has grown to more than 6,200 people. We have published hundreds of articles on every topic imaginable in Brookline, grown to a team of three (plus an army of volunteers), and made huge progress in becoming a training ground for young journalists.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know the physical corners of Brookline, its parks and streets and stores and schools, as well as the psychological, cultural and intellectual make-up of the town. It’s been fascinating to dive into Brookline’s political learn about the behind-the-scenes workers who make the town tick and about the 255-member Town Meeting that serves as our legislature.

Most of all, I’ve loved meeting and writing about so many of you, the interesting people of Brookline – whether it was the 19-year-old woman who will compete in sport pistol at the Paris Olympics or the business owners worried about the lingering effects of the pandemic or the Brookliners who took in a family of Haitian migrants who had been sleeping at Logan Airport.

There have been plenty of highs and lows, of course. As much as I enjoy covering local board and commission meetings, there’s a certain bleary-eyed exhaustion that comes from catching up until midnight on six hours of proceedings.

What keeps me going and makes it all feel worthwhile is the response from you, our readers. “I really appreciate the work you are doing and feel more in touch with the town than I have in the past 45 years,” one reader wrote. That message, and others like it, fuel our work.

Honestly, I’ve never experienced anything like it in my 10-year career in journalism, which includes writing for both local and national publications. We get so much feedback (praise, criticism and everything in between) every day, in the form of letters to the editor, social media comments or simple emails. It’s a testament to a community that wants desperately to be informed and engaged with what’s happening in town.

Briefly, I want to share some other editorial highlights of the year.

First, some more stories. Our investigation of a school district payroll failure uncovered a big settlement for hundreds of teachers. We filed a freedom-of-information request that led to the opening to public view of the once-private listserv of the Town Meeting Members Association. In a town with a large Jewish and Israeli population and a smaller Arab and Muslim community, we wrote a number of stories about the local impact of the Israel-Gaza war.

I also want to highlight our collaboration with Brandeis University’s Journalism Department, and its chair Neil Swidey. This spring, we met with a class of students once a week, forming a mini-newsroom in a workspace in Brookline Village. As they learned in the classroom with Neil, they were also writing for us, producing some excellent, unique stories–including our most-read article ever.

So thank you for reading, sharing, writing in with tips or compliments or complaints (yes, I really do appreciate and enjoy it all), and for otherwise supporting our venture.

As exciting and successful as our first year has been, there’s also uncertainty. Can we not only sustain ourselves but also grow and become the full-service news organization that this town needs and deserves? Please support our nonprofit news outlet with your tax-deductible donations. Please encourage your friends and neighbors to subscribe to our weekly newsletter. And get in touch to let us know how we’re doing.

To many more,

Sam Mintz, editor