The Ghosts of Progresses Past

If you’ve come anywhere near me or one of my reporters this week, you no doubt have heard us complain that we are in the midst of “Progress” and can’t be bothered to think about anything else, or communicate coherently. By the time the final deadline rolls around, many of us are hard-pressed to remember our own names.

OK, maybe it’s not quite that bad, but the production of our annual “Progress Chenango” editions is one of the most difficult, and rewarding, tasks we undertake here at The Evening Sun all year. Published every day during the last week in January, the preparations for Progress actually begin in early December. With a dozen or so stories to set up, interview, photograph, write, re-write, re-interview, edit, lay out and print, it’s a monumental task for our already taxed staff.

For the uninitiated, Progress Chenango is ... well ... here’s what I wrote for the sales letter: “To say that it’s been a tumultuous year for business is an understatement. A faltering stock market, the mortgage crisis, bailouts for banks and auto manufacturers – it seems 2008 was all about ‘bad news’ headlines.

“But what about Chenango County? Is the picture here as bleak as it seems to be on the national scale? Not even close. While we’ve certainly felt the trickle-down effects of an unstable economy, by and large Chenango’s businesses – big and small – have met those challenges head-on in the way that we so often do – with perseverance and ingenuity.

“Progress Chenango 2009 will track those qualities which make our local businesses so resilient, and examine how area employers are preparing to meet the challenges which lie ahead. At the end of each January, The Evening Sun’s highly-anticipated Progress edition is a full five days of special sections encompassing the county’s business, social, education and religious climates in a telling snapshot of the year that was, and a look at what the future may hold.”

And there you have it. Or will have it, starting with Monday’s edition. While we tend to bitch and moan in the newsroom as deadline draws near, we are proud of our annual Progress effort – and equally as proud of the progress that Chenango County has made, and continues to make, every year.

As I sit here virtually chained to my desk for the last two weeks in January putting this multiple section behemoth together, often in the dead of night on lonely ol’ Lackawanna Avenue, I often think back to the Progresses of days gone by. With our most grueling task, the faces of reporters past come back to me during this time of year, as I relive their belabored groans, tired excuses, dangling participles and convoluted means of meeting deadline. This year, as I recalled each of their tortured souls, I thought to myself, “Why not torture them one more time?”

I’m proud to say that of my many, many former Evening Sun reporters who’ve left the nest, I maintain a good relationship with almost all of them. It’s not only a testament to my awesomeness as a boss (my humility notwithstanding), but also to the friendly hometown nature of Chenango County that they all want to keep in touch, and look back on their time here among you fondly. Frequently during this time of year I hear from them via e-mail as they wish me luck with Progress and ask how my current staff is shouldering the burden. This year, I countered by asking them to do me one last Progress-related favor. Starting Monday, five of my favorite ES alumni will give my current staff the week off from writing their editorial columns on this very page. Michael McGuire, Nicole Martinez, Jude Seymour, Christian Vischi and Karen Bergamo Moore have agreed to fill some space for me during Progress ‘09, and to reconnect with their old readership. I have no clue what they’re going to write about, but given their disparate personalities and writing styles, I know they’ll be entertaining. And if they should fail to meet deadline, the ghosts of Progresses past will surely come back to haunt them.

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