Life after Gannett: Nemasket Week debuts in Middleborough and Lakeville

Independent local news startups are breaking out everywhere, so forgive me if I pay a little extra attention to today’s debut of Nemasket Week, a free, advertiser-supported print newspaper and website. The paper covers my hometown of Middleborough as well as neighboring Lakeville, and is the first news outlet those communities have had since Gannett killed off the Middleboro Gazette last year.

The first issue of Nemasket Week comprises 12 pages and has several local ads. It also has news — the naming of a new fire chief on page one, a feature on a performance by the High Flying Dogs, the select board’s evaluation of the town administrator, the adoption of body cams by the police departments in both communities, and (gasp) the closure of the Peaceful Meadows ice cream stand. A number of community announcements and an obituary round things out.

And get this — they actually sent a reporter to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to cover Middleborough’s appearance in the Little League World Series. The opening loss came too late to make it into the print edition, but there’s a detailed story online.

Sadly, the paper has embraced the “Middleboro” spelling instead of the correct and proper “Middleborough.” But that’s an ancient debate, and the Middleboro Gazette used the shorter name even back when it was an independently owned paper.

This is an impressive debut. Congratulations to publisher Anne Eisenmenger for adding to what was already an impressive regional presence comprising Wareham, Dartmouth and the Sippican communities of Rochester, Mattapoisett and Marion.

A free weekly paper will cover Middleborough and Lakeville

Oliver Mill Park, Middleborough. Photo (cc) 2022 by Dan Kennedy.

Local news outlets are popping up left and right following the decimation of our Eastern Massachusetts weekly newspapers at the hands of Gannett. But I want to give a special shoutout to Anne Eisenmenger, who’s going to launch a new weekly paper in mid-August to cover Middleborough, the town where I grew up, and neighboring Lakeville.

Nemasket Week, which will debut on Aug. 18, will be a free, advertiser-supported newspaper with a website. It’s part of Beaver Dam Partners, which currently publishes Wareham Week, Dartmouth Week and Sippican Week, serving Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester. Eisenmenger, a Boston Globe and GateHouse Media alum who began Beaver Dam 12 years ago, has a proven track record, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she can offer in Middleborough.

Gannett shuttered The Middleboro Gazette last November as part of a wave of weekly closures — about a half-dozen in 2021, followed by 19 in 2022, along with nine others that were merged into four titles. Even worse, nearly all of Gannett’s weekly reporters were reassigned to regional beats, which means that the chain’s papers and websites have little or no local news.

So best of luck to Nemasket Week. And though it’s well outside Eisenmenger’s region, may I suggest that she take a close look at Medford while she’s at it?

The full announcement follows. And by the way, Anne, it’s Middleborough, not Middleboro. Both spellings are in use, but the town is literally the middle borough between Plymouth and Bridgewater.