I recently delivered a sad message to the staff and freelancers of The Sentinel Newspapers, indicating that our last edition will publish on Jan. 30 after serving Montgomery County for more than 160 years and Prince George’s County for 88 years.
In that letter, I said that The Sentinel Newspapers have not been profitable for the past year. But in reality, it has been that way for the past decade. However, the issue was never about the quality of our product editorially.
It was never solely about money. We wanted to provide a public service to the communities that we represent and have done so by consistently breaking quality newsworthy stories and captivating content that embody the people that we will always cherish.
Our biggest fear is that two of the largest counties in the state of Maryland will go on without a voice from two notable flagship community newspapers, and that is what hurts the most. We represent two of the most influential communities, arguably in the nation, with some of the best talent that this industry has to offer.
We may be small in size in relation to other outlets, but I wish everyone understands how dedicated our staff is to the field of journalism. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who works harder and is more committed to their craft than our crew.
We prided ourselves in creating a launchpad for young journalists such as Bob Woodward, who uncovered the Watergate scandal or current member of the Virginia House of Delegates Danica Roem, who became the first openly transgender person to be elected to the Virginia General Assembly. Knight Kiplinger was a former employee as well, moving on start the Kiplinger Publishing Washington Editors, Inc. and is a member of the National Press Club, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.
The late and great veteran journalist Robert Pear got his start at The Sentinel, and so did Hank Plante, who went on to win the George Foster Peabody Award and multiple Emmys. Ron Nessen worked at The Sentinel as well before he served as the 13th White House Press Secretary for President Gerald Ford from 1974 to 1977, and also provided coverage of the Vietnam War for NBC. The list goes on, and we will truly miss everyone who has worked for us, and we want you to know that we couldn’t have done it without you.
I also want to extend my hand of gratitude to our current Executive Editor, Daniel Kucin Jr., who provided award-winning coverage for both newspapers after our former editor, who managed the Montgomery County Sentinel abruptly resigned.
Under Kucin’s guidance, both newspapers won a slew of MDDC Press Association editorial awards last year. In 2019, The Prince George’s Sentinel was nominated for the James S. Keat Freedom of Information Award. For that nomination, City Editor José Umaña and former Staff Writer Jessica Ricks, along with other members of our staff, uncovered investigative stories that represent: you guessed it, you.
We have always worked for you, and you will still be in our hearts. As we tip our caps to the community for the last time, I want you to know that it was a tough decision to make, but I hope you know that we were proud to carry on the tradition of independence and of being a community leader for you.
If you are interested in learning about the storied history of The Montgomery County Sentinel newspaper, please register to see our award-winning columnist Paul K. Schwartz deliver our remarks on Jan. 25 at Montgomery College in Germantown.
For more information, please visit: MontgomeryHistory.org/Events/HistoryConference2020/.