It hit me like a punch to the gut, which caught me completely off guard.
For those who haven’t seen our pages in a while, happened past our building or searched “Commercial Property”, I’m speaking of a for sale sign.
Our building is up for sale.
This isn’t new news by any means. As a staff we first learned of the business decision in early fall. Shortly thereafter our parent company Morris Multimedia sold us, as well as our sister papers: the Escalon Times, Riverbank News, Ceres Courier, Turlock Journal, Manteca Bulletin, as well as the 209 Magazine to our Publisher and his wife. Now making us 209 Multimedia, a locally owned small business.
The transition from the Morris family to the new ownership for most of us was pretty seamless. The good news is we were purchased; period. The better news is we were purchased by someone we (as a staff) have worked with for quite some time, but the building is still for sale. It’s a business decision as is not uncommon in our current market with print publications just trying to stay afloat.
Seeing the sign early last week made that sink in just a bit more.
As a journalist I’ve been counting our lucky stars for quite some time now. In truth my family has been asking the “what will you do?” question for the better part of the past six years. As mainstream media has continued to highlight the folding of many major newspapers, we have somehow continued like the little engine that could.
I attribute a large part of this success to the inception of our magazine and those who support via advertising in the 209 Magazine as well as the printed news page. I was educated early on as to how the business works. No room for the ego if you’re a writer, because while we may create the interest of the reader it is the advertisers who pay our bills.
Community support via subscription, story leads, individual sales is not only valued but appreciated. The COVID shutdown made me aware of this as never before. As I watched friends share and give shout outs to local businesses and restaurants encouraging others to “Shop local/Support local” I couldn't help but feel … what about us?
Now please don’t misunderstand this for whining, it’s truly anything but; it is, however, a fair acknowledgment that we too are a local small business. Just like the restaurant or small business that won’t make it without local support.
In the day and age of instant news and the World Wide Web, we see the increase in our website hits once a story makes it to Social Media, a free forum, however without the printed word the electronic word simply would not be.
Perhaps that’s why the for sale banner on the building hit so hard. Maybe it’s my emotional connection to a place I’ve called home for 19 years. A building where both of my children toddled, had diapers changed and did homework while mommy worked. Or maybe it’s the memories of all the faces which once sat in varying corners, the laughs shared, the tempers on deadlines days and the healthy arguments; you can’t put a price on that.
Yet business is business and as our staff size has reduced, our daily operations streamlined and our need for a space so big no longer needed – it’s still tough.
I feel as if I must reiterate yet again, I’m grateful to still be filling these pages with my “Musings” as well as the good stuff our community is so well known for. Perhaps I just wonder if the community recognizes their role of importance in keeping us going.
Just as we like to support local business via new doors opening, noteworthy events hosted and so much more, we too need such support. As I told a friend most recently, as someone passionate about this community, as well as sharing its happenings, I just don’t want to see that end.
We as your local media source document a lot of local history. With an archive closet full of past publications well over a century old, it’s fun to offer that to this great community. It’s fun to see former community members stop by to look things up from “back in the day” or snap pictures of the pages which hold their accomplishments.
So what’s this all about really?
In short the end of an era, I guess. While the building remains for sale and the business is not closing, things they are a changing. So until that time comes, we look forward to the calls, the tips and the support.
One thing I know for sure, there’s no place I’d rather spend my days, type my words or share the “news” but the 95361 – here’s to more months, more years and more memories, regardless of the building address.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 209-847-3021.