Updated: Jul 18, 2022
Cut Out and Put on the Refrigerator
Jay shares thoughts on the importance of ‘local news’ in the building of strong communities.
I wonder if you can resonate with this experience? When you were a kid or maybe even today with your own family – someone does really well. They have a great Little League game, they make the honor roll at school, someone graduates or gets married – and it makes the local paper. Not only is there an article but sometimes there is also a picture. And, what happens? You or someone in your family cuts it out of the paper and proudly puts it right up on the refrigerator. If you can relate to this experience, you truly know the value of local news.
For those of you who are avid readers of the Sunshine Report and who follow our activities with the Sunshine Initiative know that much of my inspiration for both come from the experiences I had growing up in my hometown of Newport, NH. While some of my most fond memories happened right there in the Sunshine Town, there is one that stands out amongst the rest: the first time I was featured in the local paper. It was an incredibly formative moment, one where I felt pride, excitement, and joy all in one single moment. I felt like I was on top of the world.
I recently reflected on this moment with some friends and family, and it got me thinking about the importance of local news to our communities. As a young man, being able to read about local happenings from a local perspective, from elections to sports, gave me a sense of place at an early age that helped me feel like a member of a community that I wanted to actively participate in. Having a local news outlet helps build a sense of pride and responsibility within smaller communities. It both holds us accountable for our shortcomings and celebrates our victories.
Local news can be the catalyst for incredible change in smaller communities. Yet over the last few decades, there has been an enormous decline in the amount of local news outlets. With newsrooms being pressed for revenue, many local publications have been bought by larger entities who fold them into existing larger publications, have had to cut staff, or have closed altogether. And when local communities lack the ability to receive quality journalism, they become less valuable to the community. It’s a viscious cycle, one that even has impact on democracy itself, from weaker election turnout to fewer candidates running for local office. Not only that, but with the decline of local news outlets, it limits the number and variety of sources we can receive information from, increasing the polarization that’s unfortunately been undermining our political system.
The reality is that since the inception of the United States, local newspapers have played a vital role in both educating us and building a sense of community. After all, a free press is one of the foundations of our democracy. Not only that, a strong, healthy local media plays an important economic role as well. Local newspapers help connect businesses with local consumers, helping boost local economies, keeping food on the table and the lights on at home. Strong local journalism is a pillar of small-town America, and we must continue to be its champion. It helps create trust, accountability, and also a sense of pride, just as it did for me as a young boy. So, if you’ve been wondering on how to get more involved in your community, perhaps you can start simply by picking up your local paper.
Sunshine Initiative Acquires Local Publications
Committed to community revitalization and community news, the Sunshine Initiative purchases Eagle Times, Argus Champion, and Newport Times.
(Claremont, NH) – Newly formed Sunshine Communications, a division of the Sunshine Initiative Public Benefit Corporation, announced the acquisition of the Eagle Times from Sample News Group, effective immediately.
“I am very excited to return ownership of the Eagle Times back to New Hampshire,” Said Jay Lucas, founder of the Sunshine Initiative. “As someone who grew getting our news from the Eagle as well as remembering how excited it was when my photo from my football days or my name being listed in the paper from honor roll, it is important we keep the spirit of this publication local, relevant, and worthwhile for the communities it serves.”
“Over the coming months we will be rolling out new services and offerings for local businesses to grow their marketing reach and we encourage all community groups and members of the community to share their stories with our communications company.”
In addition to the acquisition of the Eagle Times, Sunshine Communications has also taken ownership of the Newport-Argus Champion and the Newport Times online.
“Prior to this new venture, my wife Karen and I, along with Archie Mountain, Roy Malool, Hunter Rieseberg and other leaders in the Newport area brought back the Newport Times in both online and in print formats.” Said Lucas “Combining efforts and bringing it all together will create amazing content and opportunities for members of the community to share their passions with readers across western New Hampshire and beyond.”
The Eagle Times is a full-time online publication and provides print editions 3 days per week. With a loyal and dedicated staff, Lucas has made it public that no current staff will be leaving, and the only changes will be additional team members to provide support and strengthen the offerings in advertising, distribution, and content.
The Sunshine Initiative is a community-based organization dedicated to revitalizing small towns and communities throughout New Hampshire and beyond, starting in Newport. The all-volunteer organization launched in 2018 and has aided in projects including the Newport Times, the Ruger Mill, Economic Development, and even setting a world record with Guinness. The Sunshine Initiative has grown to having projects in several New Hampshire communities including Rochester, Manchester, and Laconia.
For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Murals – Telling Community Stories around the Granite State
Art has played a key role in the development of New Hampshire’s culture over the years. In modern times, some of this is expressed in the form of murals. It is a great way to use the blank canvas of a brick building, and most often the artist weaves in the local stories which represent something of significance to the community. There are many such buildings with murals dotting the Granite State landscape.
As a matter of fact, Keene, New Hampshire alone has sixteen of them! The long list of mural artists includes Berry Faulkner, a painter who served in WWI with the American Camouflage Corp and created the murals in the New Hampshire State Senate chambers as well as the Declaration of Independence at the National State Archives. As well as the famed mural depicting Jane Powers, a human and animal activist who in the 1900’s became a deputy sheriff known as “the Woman Who Dared.”
But not all murals are about people. For example, in Portsmouth, there is the Isle of Shoals Humpbacks’ mural depicting humpback whales and is a major landmark in the city. In Manchester, there is Cat Alley (look for it right beside the Bookery), which was named because of a ‘fierce’ feline fight seen there years ago. In 2009, murals of cats started appearing, but it was not until 2011 that a group of community members and artists such as Peter Noonan started to paint more cat-themed murals on the brick wall.
In my own hometown of Newport there is an actual mural restoration in progress on Main Street. The mural was originally completed in 1997 and displays the railroad history of the town. After years of weather damage, the community decided to take action with the effort being led by the Library Arts Center and Heidi Lorenz. This past June more than thirty artists came together and started the painting. They hope to have everything completed by the end of the year with the revitalized mural back up on the Newport Fitness Building for the town and visitors to enjoy.
One of my favorite murals is painted on the exterior wall of Coronis’ Market – a truly iconic Newport destination. The mural celebrates the journey and achievements of the strong Greek community that has played such a vital part in the town of Newport over the past one hundred years. (By the way, if you do visit Coronis’ Market – definitely pick up several Coronis’ Grinders – absolutely best form of sub you’ll find anywhere in the continental United States or beyond.)
This much is certain - murals bring communities together. They tell a story; they celebrate a heritage; and they create a vivid and visual sense of connectedness. It’s great to see their resurgence and growth.
Positive Profile of the Week – Leigh and Joyce Bosse
This week we are delighted to highlight two very special people who selflessly dedicate themselves to their community – Leigh and Joyce Bosse. Every week I get to share wonderful stories about all the great things people do in New Hampshire. Some of these people are my friends, some family, and others in the community. This week I get to share about two people I consider great friends and truly admire.
Leigh and Joyce are New Hampshire through and through and as local as they come. Leigh is native of Hillsborough who after serving in the US Air Force returned to Hillsborough with wife Joyce, a fellow native as well, to start their family and begin what has become a long-term commitment to their hometown and state.
They initially focused on property management and real estate; however, in the early 1990s, Joyce and Leigh purchased the Messenger. The history of the Messenger – a wonderful local publication dates back to the late 1800’s. Knowing the value of local press and community news, the Bosse’s expanded the paper to 35 communities in the Granite State and also took it online for national readership. But it isn’t just their commitment to local news that makes these two icons in their community, it is their passion for contributing and giving back.
Both Joyce and Leigh serve on respective community volunteer boards. Joyce served on the regional school board and Leigh was a state representative who rose to the rank of majority leader in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and was also candidate for Governor.
Their commitment to local news, community service, and dedication to their neighbors is what makes them so very special. Leigh and Joyce, we thank you for all you do! You are amazing!
Quotes of the Week: Local News
“There is no substitute for a local newspaper that is doing its job.”
“People essentially like local news better than network news.”
“I've always been a firm believer in local news, because it's an opportunity to connect with the community where you live.”
Author: David Shuster
“We sort of read two or three big newspapers, but we don't get the flavor of the local events, the local news as much.”
“She was back in western Washington state, where rain was so prevalent that a day of sunshine was the lead story on the local news.”
Author: Susan Mallery
“Every time a newspaper dies, even a bad one, the country moves a little closer to authoritarianism…”