An Announcement From Marblehead Beacon
It has been almost a year since we introduced Marblehead Beacon – in advance of the 2022 town elections – with the goal of creating an online local news source by citizen journalists committed to promoting transparency of local government, conducting comprehensive research, and publishing accurate and compelling coverage and analysis. We are proud of what we have accomplished to date, and enthusiastic about continuing our efforts going forward.
As we enter the 2023 town election season, we are taking this opportunity to update you on some changes in Marblehead Beacon’s structure and focus. As of May 1, 2023, editor, reporter, and co-founder Jenn Schaeffner is taking a leave of absence to run for a seat on the Marblehead School Committee in the June 20, 2023 town election.
At the same time, editor, reporter, and co-founder Jared Lederman is beginning his transition away from active news coverage as he prepares to head to college. You will still see his byline over the next few months, but he will gradually focus more exclusively on his role providing technical support, website management, and other functions that he can execute remotely.
Both Jenn and Jared have been integral to the success of our operation, but we are pivoting as needed. In order to assist our remaining editor, reporter, and co-founder, Lena Robinson, Marblehead Beacon is bringing Jennifer Lederman on board. Jennifer’s professional background as a writer and strategic consultant for biotechnology companies, and her extensive experience in research and editing, will be invaluable in our continued work on analysis of town matters, local investigative journalism, and other areas of interest to our readers.
We believe that our commitment to fact-based, non-editorialized, unbiased, and well-researched content has been a hallmark of our work to date. As we noted in our launch statement last year, living in and providing coverage of Marblehead has a unique set of challenges, but also brings with it a unique set of benefits: The members of our Marblehead Beacon team (present and past) all live in Marblehead – something that sets us apart from any other news source in town, and allows us to bring a collective institutional knowledge from having lived, worked, and engaged in the town of Marblehead for – collectively – many, many decades.
Along with the upside of having so many relationships and experiences in Marblehead comes the fact that our stake in much that transpires here is precisely what compelled Jenn Schaeffner to take a leave from Marblehead Beacon to campaign. And during this time we will remain diligent with transparency in our coverage of that race (and all others) via editor’s notes, and we will strive for continued unbiased and fair reporting.
What sets Marblehead Beacon apart, according to the many readers who have weighed in, is that we have provided what we set out to: In-depth analysis of important events in town, investigative reporting, and overall engaging coverage – while including the sometimes more-than-necessary editor’s notes about relevant potential conflicts of interest. In our ten months of reporting, we have focused our efforts on matters of town governance and how such decisions may impact town residents and other stakeholders, but also have included culture, sports, profiles of special individuals, free obituaries, a place for any and all relevant press releases, and more.
For those who are new to Marblehead Beacon, we encourage you to look back through our archives. Of the hundreds of articles we have published, below are just a few highlights, some of which are particularly relevant as we head toward the June election:
- A multi-part investigative series revealed information that otherwise would not have become public pertaining to how elected and appointed town officials have managed and invested taxpayer monies. These articles may be seen here, here, here, and here.
- Many human-interest profiles about intriguing members of our community, like Robert Dillon, Barbara DiVenunti, Tammy Sprague, Fire Chief Jason Gilliland, and James Maroney
- Our extensive coverage pertaining to the six-way Democrat primary for the 8th Essex District State Representative race last year, including the only reporting in the region that took a deep dive into the financials of the candidates, and comprehensive coverage of the election results and related stories
- The first article published in any local or regional news outlet about the Humphrey Sober House
- Substantial coverage of a wide range of local matters, including open meeting complaints, last year’s failed override question, a ballot recount, an asbestos-related story on a claim against the town by a town custodian, the two cannabis storefronts slated to open in Marblehead, and an emotion-packed football game
The news landscape has changed significantly since Marblehead Beacon first launched, and we have been pleased to see both Marblehead Current and Marblehead Weekly News join the world of 01945 reporting. We are indeed fortunate to have a plethora of news choices when so many other communities are suffering in news deserts.
While the other news outlets are good resources and we are grateful for their work, we believe Marblehead Beacon’s mission is a unique one. In our introductory article last June, we quoted Benjamin Franklin, and his message bears repeating here: "Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech."
To us, this means that our democracy – locally, regionally, and nationally – cannot exist without a free press. There are no sacred cows at Marblehead Beacon. And though we do not anticipate winning any popularity awards from the power brokers of the town, we believe that the exposure of the underbelly of town government can only serve to make Marblehead stronger.
A free press must not only be technically and legally free to investigate and report on the activities of our elected officials; it must have the stamina, motivation, and fortitude to do so. At times it is neither an easy nor comfortable job – often involving upsetting the status quo, asking difficult questions, getting pushback, and providing news that is true and important rather than reassuring or uplifting.
To maintain our democracy, we must know what is actually happening behind the scenes in our town offices and boardrooms. It is not enough simply to report on what transpires in public meetings or in friendly interviews with town officials that are sometimes more spin than substance. A free press must challenge assumptions, disregard conventional wisdom, and authenticate official claims.
Our work often involves numerous interviews, multiple public records requests, and extensive research, and we frequently encounter roadblocks that include the refusal of town officials to cooperate. We have successfully appealed such refusals to the Secretary of State on several occasions, but all of these things take significant time, work, and sometimes resources.
If you share the conviction that our work at Marblehead Beacon sheds important light on the operations of the town and helps contribute to more transparent and effective governance, we respectfully ask that you support our efforts. While all of our content is available for free on our website and distributed regularly in our free email newsletter, we cannot continue our work without the financial support of our readers. Marblehead Beacon is an incredibly lean operation that does not have the carbon footprint or cost of a printed, mailed newspaper; nevertheless we work very hard to ensure that we bring you news that matters. Please consider making a one-time or monthly donation in any amount, and if you have not already followed or shared our handles on social media, we ask that you do so. We may be found @MarbleheadBeacon on Facebook and @mhdbeacon on Instagram.
As always, please reach out to us with tips, questions, concerns, and suggestions. Visit our website to sign up for our newsletter, email us at email@example.com, or reach out via phone or text at 781-631-0100.