(June 30, EDITOR’S FAREWELL COLUMN)

A newspaper is your best friend.

Carried under your arm from place to place, it is a constant companion. Whether you use one to start your day, end it, or sometime in between, it’s there with you.

A good newspaper speaks the truth and exposes lies. It portrays the mundane as well as the sublime. It makes you think. It makes you angry. And, hopefully, it helps show the way forward in uncertain times.

It is all these things and more, until you throw it in the trash.

Wad it up. Tear it to pieces.

Alternatively, lay it flat in your pet’s “elimination area.”

Don’t worry, they’ll make another one. And it’ll be your best friend, too, for a time.

More than ink on paper

These days, The Packer is much more than a newspaper.

We are a news organization, with tentacles spreading out across the Internet — from our own Web site, www.thepacker.com, to Tom Karst’s blog, www.freshtalk.blogspot.com. Our news and information is carried on other industry Web sites, Google News, YouTube … even competitors’ sites will point back to our own.

Yes, the Web is a great tool, one that we have embraced as our “daily” news operation. We are posting more stories than ever to the site, and there are major improvements on the way. Just wait.

The Web also is a major disruptive element.

You would have to be ignoring the news for the past year to not know that the media business is going through a major upheaval. More than just rethinking our business model, we are diligently preparing for a day when newsprint ceases to be a vehicle for our stories, however far off that is.

A great many of our readers get their produce industry news almost exclusively online. Others say they never go online, that they like the sensory aspect of a newspaper. It is something to hold onto, after all.

In whatever form, The Packer aims to give the best information available, in the most expedient manner possible.

Setting the record straight

I always think the best newspapers are judged not by their front page, but on Page 2, the home of corrections and clarifications. Be assured that The Packer does regret all errors that occur.

When we have erred, we aim to set the record straight. We rely on our community of readers to tell us when we are wrong, just as we rely on them, as sources, to tell us what is right and true.

In these ways, The Packer audience is just as important a part of preserving this journal of public record as the newspaper itself. It’s been that way for 115 years, and so it shall be until this old gray rag is put down.

Most of us in the news business were lucky to have grown up when daily metropolitan journalism was at its peak.

After Watergate, to be a journalist was an elevated calling. It meant digging through muck and sometimes seemingly useless information to find the real truth. Journalists proudly embrace the watchdog role, putting countless hours behind properly verifying the information we use.

And then there is the craft itself.

To put words on paper is to strive for immortality of thought, to convey a more perfect understanding of society, humanity, economics.

To write is to know one’s self, and to let others know you.

Farewell

This marks my final column as Editor of The Packer, and likely my last as a journalist. I am leaving to pursue a career outside the fresh produce industry.

To the many fine journalists I have worked with and learned from, thank you.

To the many sources, confidantes and friends in the produce industry who have helped me along the way — you know you are many — I offer my heartfelt appreciation.

It has been a pleasure serving you the past 13 years, and I wish you the best of luck in your businesses and great health and happiness in your lives.

Even when this particular edition of The Packer makes its way to your recycle bin, it will have served its purpose, and that is a job worth having done.

Jungmeyer: The news isn’t going anywhere, but I am
Lance Jungmeyer
Editor