The Last American Newspaper

An Institution in Peril, Through the Eyes of a Small-Town Editor


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About the Book

This book reveals what is happening in small communities across the United States as their newspapers struggle to survive. It is a celebration not just of journalism, but of the inspirational people who do it and the news and events of small towns. Importantly, it asks the question: who will be the community watchdog of the future?
This book memorializes the American newspaper through the story of the Post-Star of Glens Falls, NY. The author, a devoted veteran of the Post-Star, compiles a series of vignettes that depict the newspaper’s coverage over the years. They provide a glimpse behind the newsroom curtain through the stories of the investigative journalism done in small towns.

About the Author(s)

Ken Tingley was the editor of The Post-Star in Glens Falls, New York, from 1999 to 2020. He was president of the New York State Associated Press Association in 2010 when it merged with the state broadcasters association. He served twice on the board of directors of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and was a Pulitzer Prize judge in 2008 and 2009. He lives in Queensbury, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Ken Tingley
Foreword by Gary Kebbel
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 335
Bibliographic Info: 35 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8826-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4626-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Foreword: The Last American Newspaper by Gary Kebbel 1
Preface 3
Introduction: Mary Joseph 5
1. “My high school is on TV” 13
2. “Get up, get out” 24
3. 9/11 31
4. Maury 42
5. Growing Up Gay 49
6. “She has suffered enough…” 59
7. The Photograph 66
8. Street of Dreams 72
9. Monsters After Midnight 83
10. ­­­­­9-1-1 97
11. Breaking Their Silence 106
12. “I don’t know where my husband is” 115
13. “Was that Vito?” 129
14. Congressman ­­­­­Kick-Ass 134
15. Not Again… 145
16. Parents Still Don’t Get It 150
17. “You won it, buddy” 161
18. “There are kids in there” 170
19. Profile in Courage 178
20. You Don’t Want to Read This 184
21. Who Will Take Care of Us? 190
22. The Evil Librarian 197
23. Heroin Hits Home 202
24. The Difficult Mr. Lehman 212
25. The Great Email Caper 218
26. The Alzheimer’s Chronicles 229
27. “We’ve got one coming for you, Post-Star” 237
28. The Last Year 249
Epilogue 261
Chapter Notes 267
Bibliography 299
Index 317

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Across America, community newspapers are in deep trouble as more than 35,000 local journalists have lost jobs since 2008. The result is lower civic engagement, less accountability among local leaders, and the critical loss of a catalyst for positive change. Ken Tingley’s book, The Last American Newspaper, is a clarion call for citizens who are rightly concerned about who is going to do the kind of journalism needed in a democracy. Tingley’s account of the talented and dedicated staff of The Post-Star—and the increasing financial, corporate and political challenges faced in his 21 years as editor—is a microcosm of the triumphs and challenges experienced by community newspapers in hometowns across the U.S.A. Tingley’s writing is as clear as his message.”—David Stoeffler, former Post-Star publisher, chief executive officer, Springfield (MO) Daily Citizen

• “One of the greatest privileges of being a U.S. Senator is getting to meet the people of New York and hear their stories. In his thoughtful reporting—and now in his fantastic new book—Ken Tingley has searched out those stories that so often go unheard and brought them to light. Local papers and reporters play such a vital and trusted role in our society and our democracy and—like many New Yorkers—I rely on them to stay connected and informed about what our communities need. The knowledge I gain from local reporting and hometown papers makes me a better public servant. The Last American Newspaper is a celebration of Hometown U.S.A., of the importance of America’s journalists and of the work of a great American editor.”—U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

• “The Last American Newspaper is a compelling exploration of the meaning, value, and import of this country’s local community newspapers. Ken Tingley brings to life what the paper and its people mean to a community, and helps the reader understand that the reporters and all who work at local papers, are part of the community they serve. He brings the events, issues, concerns, successes, trials and tribulations faced by local communities to light and reminds us that those working for the paper are community members dedicated to bringing their community the news and the truth. Tingley is a gifted writer and master storyteller. He has written a timely and important book at a critical time as we face the loss of local newspapers across the country.”—Eric S. Mondschein, author, Life at 12 College Road

• “Ken Tingley has written a testimonial to the journalists who worked with him on one small city newspaper, but it is also a love letter to every newspaper journalist at every newspaper in America. In his book, we see the stories they cover through their eyes and feel the courage, determination, compassion and grief they share with the local people whose stories they tell. We meet the journalists who struggled to sensitively present the stories of victims of domestic violence in a way that exposes the horror of the abuse and the courage of the survivors. Above all, Ken used the newspaper’s voice to explore difficult and controversial stories through an ongoing, sometimes painful, conversation with its readers.”— Diane Kennedy, president, New York News Publishers Association

• “This book completely fell into the I-could-not-put-it-down realm. It will provide amazing insight into how a newsroom—much like a family—is filled with love, trust, dysfunction, arguments and a common goal. Ken’s gift is storytelling, and it shines through the pages of this one.”—Tim Reynolds, national NBA writer, The Associated Press

• “When local newspapers fade away, who will chronicle the life and times of a community? Where will the historians of the future turn to understand how a town evolved in the 21st century? And more immediately, where will we, as citizens, find information to hold locally elected city councils, town boards and state legislators accountable. In his new book, The Last American Newspaper, Ken Tingley captures all that is at stake when local newspapers decline. Part memoir, part essay, Ken Tingley’s writing entertains and informs, and hopefully sends each of us off to subscribe to our local newspaper. It certainly did for me.”— Carrie Woerner, assemblywoman for New York’s 113th Assembly district

• “Ken Tingley has written a spirited celebration of local newspapers—and a lament for their rapid decline. Taking us inside his former upstate New York newsroom, Tingley introduces us to passionate, sometimes quirky, journalists and offers unique insight into stories and editorials that held the powerful accountable, raised alarms about tough issues, sought solutions, and united neighbors in times of tragedy. A must read for anyone who loves a good story, values local news and fears its demise.”—Charlotte Hall, retired editor and senior vice president, Orlando Sentinel.