• The Hammonton Gazette

Things that keep a publisher up at night


Hammonton Board of Education President Sam Mento III said attendance was down 50 percent during the January 21 board of education meeting. (Courtesy Photo)

Sometimes, there are things—work things—that keep a publisher like me up at night.


You know what I mean.


The lights are on at the kitchen table, the laptop is open and there are papers all around about an issue, a problem or a challenge that keep me from getting sleep.


I have to look it over again, and again.


Some nights the answers come.


Some nights they don’t.


An example would be the recent announcement at a school board meeting by Hammonton Board of Education President Sam Mento III that attendance at the schools was down 50 percent as the pandemic continues.


50 percent! The impact on the students is going to be significant and will be difficult to reverse.


My feeling is the board and administration must—if they aren’t already doing so—come up with a “catch up” plan for all students across all the grades. This plan can be implemented in the future, as the current situation obviously makes it difficult for staff and students to continue the educational process as it is.


The idea would be that a year from now, two years from now, there would be instructional assistance for all the students that were impacted negatively by the pandemic and the restrictions to public education associated with attempting to keep those students and staff healthy.


Ideas like the one in the last few paragraphs are born out of late-night thinking (although sometimes its early-morning thinking) that asks two major questions—among others—about any given topic:


What is happening? What can we do about it?


Those are the two major questions, either about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and its vaccine, the local economy, how to keep the bonds between people strong when no one can get together, the flagging attendance at schools that haven’t been in session in any normal way for nearly a year, Governor Phil Murphy’s seemingly arbitrary (and seemingly endless) executive orders, and the crimes that make it onto our pages and the victims of those crimes.


It’s a big part of my job to think about all these issues, and many more like them, every day. Sometimes there isn’t enough “day” in the day to think about them, and that is when the light goes on, late at night and early in the morning. It’s quiet and there is more time to focus on these topics.


The topics are important to me, as they are to our entire staff. It’s just that when you have covered a place for a long time, you can’t help but take your work home with you, because it’s not just your work, especially when it’s your hometown.


That somewhat modern saying “work/life balance” doesn’t apply in the newspaper business. Work is part of my life. If the phone rings at 6:30 a.m. or 11 p.m., it doesn’t matter. We cover life, and life happens 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.


Sometimes covering life means you’re up late, or early, because you’re thinking about what matters to your readers—because it also matters to you. Whatever the topics are, thinking about them is the best way to figure out how to help find a resolution, and potentially make a bad situation better.


Like the product of countless other sleepless nights, you’ll read about those topics in The Gazette eventually.


The changes that occur after we write about the topics that keep me up at night make all the lost sleep worth it.


After all, it’s part of our job to lose some sleep.


The goal is to help everyone rest more easily.




Gabe Donio is the publisher of The Hammonton Gazette.