Farewell to 2020. Cheers to 2021.

Have you ever seen a New Year’s Eve pass so quietly yet carry such a huge impact?

There was little visible fanfare. There were no gatherings to speak of.  Restaurants were empty.  Presque Isle’s streets were nearly empty. Times Square was virtually vacant, TV cameras showing the famous ball dropping amid few people.

Yet as midnight and the morning of Jan. 1 arrived, you could almost feel the world exhale. It wasn’t happy-go-lucky jubilation. It was much deeper.  It was the collective sigh of relief from all corners of a world broken by illness, fear and grief. It was everyone in the world letting go of the long, deep breath we’ve all been holding since about March.

2020 is over. 

I’m never one to wish my life away, but I must admit I’m glad a new year has begun.

COVID-19 is still among us, and distancing may be necessary for some time. But the advent of vaccines and small glimmers of hope that the tide may be turning are enough to greet 2021 with hope.

New years always spark moments of gratitude for me. Despite the fiasco moments of 2020, there was much to be thankful for — not only personally, but professionally.  

In a year that saw our whole way of doing our jobs turned upside down, from the St. John Valley to Bangor we worked together to find new ways of connecting with each other and our communities, sharing resources and crafting stories that mattered. Like many organizations, our meetings transitioned to video chats, but the interaction was all the more precious since we couldn’t see one another in person. I feel grateful for each member of our team. 

There are many people who contribute to putting the news in readers’ hands. Our reporters investigate, write and photograph, and editors fine-tune and guide. Our sales representatives canvass their communities to help businesses shine. Our creative graphics folks turn ideas into advertising art. Our paginators — layout artists — craft the puzzle of ads, stories and photos into digital newspaper pages. Our managers and supervisors oversee the operation, and printers print the final products. Our web editors, designers and administrators create and maintain all of our news websites. And, of course, our IT technicians keep all systems in working order. 

Every single team member focuses on one final outcome: what it all means to readers. Because without readers, none of it would be possible in the first place. So however you read us, digitally or in print, thank you.  Thank you for staying with us during the past year and all its upheaval. Thank you for subscribing, whether you choose print or digital. When you read and support our work, you keep us going. Thank you for your encouraging words, your suggestions, and for telling us when we missed the mark. That knowledge helps us do our jobs better.

Many of you have noted our smaller papers in recent months. Like so many other businesses, we too had to pare some things down in order to weather the COVID-19 storm. By trimming pages, we have saved on costs and have maintained our staff. For that, we are also thankful.

We begin this new year with a hopeful outlook. We have some plans in the works to redesign our websites and strengthen our newspapers, so we can offer more relevant and impactful stories, more of what matters to our communities. We invite you to stay with us on the journey — and please, invite your friends and neighbors along. 

Happy new year.

Paula Brewer is assistant editor for The Star-Herald, Aroostook Republican, Houlton Pioneer Times, St. John Valley Times, Penobscot Times/Weekly and Piscataquis Observer, plus websites TheCounty.ME, FiddleheadFocus.com, thepenobscottimes.com and observerme.com. She can be reached at 207-764-4471 or via email at pbrewer@bangordailynews.com.

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