Our Back Pages: The Gazette’s past leads to its future
“Ah but I was so much older then/I’m younger than that now”
Twenty-five years is a long time to do anything.
I’m a first-generation newspaper owner and a third generation business owner. Like so many business owners, I had a dream of owning my own business. The idea changed my life, giving me a quarter-century career. Most importantly, it was the reason I met my wife, Gina Rullo. Together, we share The Gazette’s loveable golden doodle, Fenway. (Although these days I think we share the dog with the entire town as well.)
This life of mine would have had an entirely different direction if I hadn’t decided to embark on the creation of The Gazette, which grew like a phoenix out of the ashes of a dream that did not materialize, The Hammonton Blueberries Baseball Club. You see, I wanted a sports section to cover the baseball team—and you can’t have a sports section without a newspaper. That led to the hiring of Dan Russoman, our sports editor who—like Gina Rullo—has been with The Gazette for the entire 25 years.
If we hadn’t created the paper, I would have never had the chance to collaborate with our team of outstanding people. Our Lead Graphic Designer MarySusan Hoffman has been with the paper nearly 15 years. Joseph F. Berenato helped the paper in its infancy as our entertainment editor, then left for 18 years and returned for his current stint. Our copy editor Kristin Guglietti revitalized our newspaper’s website and is an excellent writer, as is staff writer Sean Friel, who, along with photographers Betsey Karl and Jenn Bailey can be seen covering events and people throughout town.
This week I stood in our office building on Tilton Street, the street where I grew up reading print newspapers and producing my own two-sided one sheet that I named The Tilton Street News back in 1983. My mother and father were always encouraging, and I ran the copies off on the copier at my dad’s office when my mom drove me there. I was 10 years old. The calls with positive comments about “Gabe’s paper” started coming into our house—the house across the street from where The Gazette is located in 2022, and where my mother still lives. She even has the same phone number we had in 1983.
There are two keys to remain successful in business and in life, I’ve found. The first is decisiveness. The second is consistency.
The newspaper you are reading today—the 25th Anniversary of The Gazette—is a bridge from everything we have done in the past to everything we will do in the future. This moment, this Silver Anniversary, is a proud moment for everyone involved with creating a new business, and more importantly, a new print newspaper. Today, we are a more complete and diverse media outlet than we were in 1997, with print and digital components as well as Gazette Print Shop, we are serving our customers—our readers, our advertisers and the people we cover with The Gazette—in more ways than I could have imagined 25 years ago. You can read all about the origin story of The Gazette and first-hand accounts from people about the newspaper’s past, present and future in my Silver Anniversary article beginning on page one of this week’s edition.
I’ve never written a more comprehensive article about the newspaper. It took a while to write and it will take a while for you to read, but hey, it’s our Silver Anniversary, so it’s worth it. Trust me.
There are also amazing letters to the editor, perspectives and columns from so many people who took the time to reflect on The Gazette printed in our expanded Opinion section and throughout the paper.
Print newspapers have been around me my entire life. From sitting on my mother’s lap as a child as she read The Philadelphia Inquirer, to my father quoting stories from The Press of Atlantic City, to reading The Boston Globe, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Washington Post during my college years, to all the other papers I’ve read and enjoyed in different stages of my life: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Observer, The Cape May Herald, The Hammonton News and so many more.
There are framed newspapers in The Gazette’s office from July of 1969, when man landed on the moon for the first time. It was considered the biggest story in journalism then. I always found it fitting that The Gazette landed in Hammonton in July as well—July 2, 1997, to be exact. July is a wonderful month in Hammonton and in the United States of America, with Independence Day on July 4 and the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and its Feast Day of July 16 (which also happens to be my birthday).
Those framed newspapers of the moon landing always remind our staff of the idealistic notion that with hard work and perseverance people can do anything. Each day I come into the office, I look at them and I am reminded of the words of President John F. Kennedy from 1962, 60 years ago this September:
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
Thank you for joining us as we have pursued our dream of bringing a local weekly newspaper to you through The Hammonton Gazette for the last 25 years. It has been our honor and our privilege, I can assure you, and we look forward to what the future will bring to Hammonton, the town we love and call home.
Gabriel J. Donio is the publisher of The Hammonton Gazette.