“For the times they are a-changin.”
The phrase is repeated five times in the Bob Dylan song by the same name. It’s been the prevailing sentiment around our office for several weeks ahead of the merger of two long-time competing newspapers.
Life is about timing and the time is right for The Dispatch and OC Today to come together as one and work together to preserve and enhance local, community journalism. We will be stronger together and the community will be better served by our combined product. We are excited about this merger and our resulting potential.
The first discussion of The Dispatch merging with its primary competitor OC Today came 15 years ago. It was not the right time. Other talks have occurred through the years. Today, I am excited and ready to move ahead with our new, merged publication, OC Today/Dispatch, as the leaders in the market’s print news offerings are combining assets to become one.
Next week will mark a new chapter for local journalism, and the future is bright. At its simplest, journalism is a form of community service. For me, it’s in my blood. I was raised in this business. In turn, I have essentially raised a family while leading this business. In a family business everything is personal to a degree. My wife Pamela has managed the business office for the last 10 years. My mom Patsy has opened the daily mail for the last 30 years. My sons once ran the halls of this office after school for many years. I once did the same thing, too. Our employees are family, and therefore their interests and concerns align with my interests and concerns.
It’s impossible to deny there are heavy emotions involved with this merger, though I am 100% in on this deal and think it’s best for the future of our community. I assume weeks and months from now I will come to terms with the feelings in my heart, but I am at peace knowing there will never be any regrets. This is the right time and a solid move for everyone. The mixed emotions are natural with a massive change, but I am positive the residential, visiting and business community wins here.
Throughout these merger discussions over the last year, my thoughts have inevitably circled to Dick Lohmeyer, who founded this newspaper in 1984 and was my stepfather. Like my new colleague Stewart Dobson, who I have always respected as a competitor over the last two-plus decades, journalism has always been part of the family. During high school, I often wrote sports stories and took photos for the paper. I still remember my first page one photo – black and white, of course — at 16 years of age of the Captain’s Hill neighborhood covered in snow in 1991. I recall Lohmeyer saying, “you used a whole roll of film and got one good one.” Shoot, at the time, I was relieved there was at least one usable picture. My 15-year-old son Beckett had his first page one photo last summer from the Memorial Day Parade in Berlin. The photography bug has him, as it did me at an early age. People in journalism are built different and maybe one day he will share my passion for the work.
Today is a big day personally and professionally. It’s also an awkward one to a degree, as it’s not customary for the business side of newspaper publishing to make news. It’s important for our readers to know this is a positive thing and they will be better served with this merger. The favorite weekly columns and features from both publications will continue in the new one with a fresh redesign coming in the months ahead.
As we move ahead, we look forward to continuing to publish the news and weigh in on matters of interest through editorials and columns. The reporting and opinion will just come in a different format under a new name. We begin this new chapter with the same dedication and passion that’s always been the daily motivation around here, while admitting it does come with some emotion and nostalgia.