It is hard to address my given topic — “where we’re going” — without reflecting on where we have been.
When our small group of founders first began to transform the Current from concept to reality, it helped not to know what we didn’t know. Had it come at us in one big wave, we probably would have run for cover.
But as we started to move — one step forward, two steps back; three forward, two back — a funny thing began to happen. One day, we looked up, and we weren’t alone anymore. Other people — smart, talented people — had bought into the dream, and they have been throwing their hearts and souls into our enterprise since.
What is that dream? Early on, the easiest explanation was to say that we were trying to bring back what the distant corporate owner of the once-proud newspaper I led for 14 years had frittered away: an institution that cared about the town and could be trusted, both as a source of information and as a partner to local businesses and whatever civic-minded projects residents could dream up.
As we said when we introduced ourselves to the community, “Two newspapers served Marblehead for the last 150 years. We hope to take the baton for the next 150.”
But our experience has also brought us face to face with just how much the media landscape has changed — and is continuing to change — from the days when Childe Hassam’s art graced the banner of the Marblehead Messenger.
As the Current was turning a year old, a company owned by one social media titan, Mark Zuckerberg, was launching a new service, Threads, to compete with Twitter, owned by Elon Musk. The billionaire rivals have since been posturing about taking one another’s measure in a “cage fight” — or with a ruler.
One of the more interesting comments that emerged around the launch of Zuckerberg’s Instagram offshoot came from Instagram head Adam Mosseri. Mosseri said the Threads app is “not going to do anything to encourage” politics and “hard news” on the service, favoring instead topics like sports, music, fashion, beauty and entertainment.
Social media not the best place to have productive conversations about “hard news”? You don’t say.
I would like to believe that Mosseri’s quote is just the latest sign of our growing recognition of our collective need to wean ourselves from social media’s nonstop “sugar rush” of outrage and to diversify our media diets with more nourishing, locally sourced meals.
I am proud of what the Current has “plated” in our first year — ambitious and comprehensive Town Meeting and election guides, essential coverage of the schools and town government, and thoroughly researched reports on the controversies of the day.
Now, it’s time to diversify the menu.
In the days ahead, we will be devoting more of our time to developing stories that make an impact — not “gotchas” for “gotchas’ sake” that assign blame or settle political scores — but stories that help move an already great place a bit closer to perfect.
I’m sure we will find other fun things to experiment with as well. An editorial cartoonist? TikTok-style videos? An heir to Dawn Bucket’s legacy? The possibilities are endless, and we are very much open to suggestions. If there is something you would like to see in the Current, by all means email us at email@example.com.
Apple founder Steve Jobs once said, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
Over the past year, we have confirmed what we already knew: It’s more than a little nuts to build from scratch and manage a weekly print newspaper, along with its companion website and social media channels.
But with your continued support, maybe — if only in one beautiful, historic seaside town north of Boston — we can do a bit of that “change the world” thing, too.