This is my last column – and a note of thanks to  readers

BY CHUCK WITT

Sun Columnist

This column, number 459, will be my last.

For the past 13 years, I have been privileged to be afforded space in this newspaper to express outrage, humor, sometimes information and sometimes just tomfoolery. What began as a bi-weekly column eventually morphed into one appearing weekly. Approximately 270,000 words in that period of time are surely enough for any one person to adequately delineate his or her positions on a host of subjects.

In those 459 columns, I have assiduously adhered to a philosophy of trying to never make the writings about me and personal pronouns have been vacant from these columns except in four cases, including this one.

So I hope that readers understood that, while each column was obviously my opinion, they were designed to stimulate thought, conversation and consideration. Indeed, the occasional response to a column by a letter written to the paper or an email sent directly to me showed that someone cared enough about what I had written to voice their own opinion. Believe it or not, every response, whether positive or negative, was deeply appreciated. And the numerous complimentary comments made to me personally over the years have been deeply gratifying.

My connections with The Sun go back many decades, to the days when I could hang out in the basement press area after school and when I carried the paper for a short period of time, always ending up with ink-smeared hands from papers fresh off the presses.

The owners of this newspaper, like in any business, have the right to establish their own rules regarding how the business will be operated. Last year I was asked to orient my columns to emphasize more local issues. I have attempted to do so, and even important national issues often affect things in a small community like Winchester. The Sun has been generous in understanding that.

And like all businesses, things change.

I do not believe that the changes occurring now with The Winchester Sun are for the better. Once again, that’s just my opinion, but recent events at the paper suggest that The Sun is rapidly becoming less of a community paper, with fewer and fewer local events being covered, especially important public gatherings. The unfortunate fact that the paper has had to become a twice-weekly publication has dramatically reduced its ability to address local issues. I do not believe that The Sun will ever again become a six-day-a-week publication. More’s the pity.

Because I find myself in disagreement with the way the paper is being operated — no longer under local control or ownership  and with what I consider little affinity with local issues despite the dedication of the local staff — I must take leave.

I sincerely hope that my predictions are wrong. I hope that a newspaper that has served its local readership for over 140 years will find some way to continue, even to expand and grow.

I thank The Sun for allowing me a 13-year forum, and I thank you, the readers, many of whom have been there from the beginning.

In the first column I paraphrased Bette Davis, “Fasten your seat belts, folks. It’s going to be an interesting ride.”

It certainly has been for me. I hope for you as well.