Column: A reminder of why we do what we do

Loading up the Times/Review van.

As someone who grew up around newspapers, I was always fascinated by how they’d get to your doorstep each day.

I can remember as a young kid watching with wonder as my father — who was a graphic artist at Newsday — would draw an ad from scratch with his hand. The next morning, I’d flip the pages until I found his work in the paper.

I’d love to watch the presses run whenever the old man would take me to work with him. And as we’d walk the hallways, I’d stare at all the strangers we’d pass and wonder what role they played in the daily miracle, how they did it and why.

My fascination with how it all works hasn’t exactly declined over the years. In fact, as we keep our websites constantly moving seven days a week, on top of producing weekly newspapers here at Times/Review, I’m more amazed than ever before.

Our staff roster lists 57 employees, including more than 40 residents of the three towns we cover, each of whom plays a unique role in making sure our stories and ads get produced, packaged and delivered accurately and on time.

As executive editor, I meet several times a month with the managers of the other key areas of our company — sales and marketing, production and business — to discuss ongoing projects and to plan for the future. In these meetings, I constantly hear stories of how one of our staffers went above and beyond to make sure our product, a labor of love for all of us, was produced with the utmost quality.

Even though our circulation manager, Melanie Drozd, a Riverhead High School graduate and resident of Wading River, is here at 8:30 every morning to perform her regular duties, she often gets stuck driving our delivery truck. I rode shotgun on a recent Wednesday night to see how she does it.

It’s a grind. She drives to the printing plant in Shirley, loads the pallets onto the truck and drives for several hours, stopping and going, until the papers are dropped at each and every store that sells them.

In the form of awards and others’ praise, my staff of reporters and editors usually gets a lot of the credit for the good work our company does. But when someone doesn’t agree with us, it’s usually Melanie and her circulation staff who have to handle the complaint.

As I drove the route with Melanie last month, I got a sense of why she does it. She loves Riverhead. It’s in her blood. It’s where she was born and raised, and where her parents and grandparents have lived and worked, too.

She had a story to tell about many of the places along the route. “My grandpa once owned this place,” she said. “I can remember coming here as a kid.”

Laura Huber, a Mattituck native who lives in Aquebogue, recently joined our editorial staff as an editorial assistant. Dollars to doughnuts she produced more words in this week’s paper than anyone else and her byline doesn’t appear. The obits, the calendar, many of the briefs — that’s her work.

Though she only recently moved to a desk in our newsroom, Laura has been a key cog in the Times/Review machine since she was first hired full-time in 2001. She previously held roles managing circulation and later social media for our company. Before all that, she was an unpaid intern here.

And while a dozen years sounds like an awful long time, it’s nowhere near the top of our seniority list here. Lauren Sisson of Mattituck and Tina Volinski of Greenport started working here in the 1980s. Tim Kelly of Cutchogue, Tim Gannon of Hampton Bays, Archer Brown of Shelter Island, Decia Fates of Greenport, Bob Liepa of Center Moriches and Barbaraellen Koch and Bert Vogel of Riverhead all began their careers here in the ’90s. (Bob Liepa has become such a known figure covering sports for us, I once witnessed the Mattituck crowd chanting his name at a championship basketball game.)

I’ve been with Times/Review since February 2006, and 25 of our employees have worked here longer than I have.

I can still recall the feeling of comfort and familiarity I felt driving to our former satellite office in Wading River, just two miles from the house where I grew up, for an interview before I was hired.

I’d imagine that feeling is similar to the one so many of my coworkers feel as they drive past the local vineyards, farm stands and boutiques on their way to our office in Mattituck.

Every now and then, when you slow down and look around, you can feel it. You’re home.

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