Corrections or additions?
This article was prepared for the
November 7, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights
Between the Lines
Maybe you or someone at your office has had an
like this: Somebody has a birthday, or a special event of some sort
to celebrate or commemorate. You put it off because your work schedule
doesn’t quite permit it. Then you put it off, forget to reschedule
it, and then something more dramatic happens and the event gets
We had a nice little gathering last May in our office lunchroom for
our boss, celebrating his 54th birthday. Not a big one, to be sure,
and one some people would rather not call attention to. Someone bought
a bottle of champagne for the occasion, but the bottle was never
We would do it later, some other day, when everyone had a few extra
Spring gave way to summer, summer to early fall. Our boss took his
boys up to their cottage in Pennsylvania on July 21, and then was
too busy to return. That was okay, he figured. He would return on
some glorious day of Indian summer and drain the pipes and pull the
dock out of the water. Then September 11, an event that hit very close
to home for U.S. 1. And then the anthrax. Our post office on Roszel
Road closed. Our bank on Nassau Street closed. The only thing we know
for sure is that the bottle of champagne still sits in the kitchen,
Along the way another birthday came and went: November 1, U.S. 1’s
17th anniversary. The boss, who usually does a fanciful and sometimes
revealing interview with himself to mark the anniversary issue, this
year slogged ahead with business at hand. While the 17th, like the
54th, is not a big one, it does deserve a little attention.
For any business, making it through 17 years is an accomplishment.
In the industry as a whole newspaper readership is down in the last
decade. The multiples of earnings and revenue paid for the large daily
newspapers are less today than they were 10 years ago, despite the
flourishing economic times. The technology-driven Princeton economy
took a hit beginning early in the year 2000, with the decline in the
dot.com and tech sectors. And then came September 11 and anthrax —
no one’s immune to the actual disruption and the perceived fear.
And a small newspaper that holds its readers through timely articles
written for a specific audience suffers more in a downturn than a
large chain that can use a recession to cut the inevitable fat that
grows during the good times. In U.S. 1’s case, with fewer than a dozen
fulltime employees, when one person is out that’s 10 percent of the
workforce. When the boss, who arguably does the work of more than
one person, spends a day getting a dock out of the water, that’s like
15 or 20 percent of the workforce getting a dock out.
The dock still sits in the very cold waters of a lake in the Endless
Mountains of Pennsylvania, nearly 2,000 feet above sea level. The
champagne sits in the kitchen.
We caught up with the boss for at least one comment, and got the brush
off as he walked out of the building.
Where are you going? we asked. "Out," he answered.
When will you be back? "Later."
On the bright side, the boss is acting more like 17 than 54. We think
we will all come out of this okay. We promise to revisit the subject
in a year — our 18th.
Corrections or additions?
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