There are all kinds of home.

There’s the home you enjoy without thought when you’re a kid, the first apartment you decorate alone, and the house you share later on with those you love.

If you’re lucky, you’ll have more than one home at a time – a job that feels just right, and a bunch of buddies who enjoy what you enjoy, jogging in the am, clubbing in the pm, sailing, skiing, putting on a play.

If you’re lucky, your home will be a community, a safe haven that provides confidence and comfort, whether you’re there or elsewhere.

One of my homes is a newspaper newsroom. Any newsroom, really, as long as the people in it feel as I do. Which is to say, as long as they feel that one of their most important roles is to provide, for all of their readers, an accurate, interesting, informative picture of home.

Now you may say, “Oh, that’s not what these Meetinghouse stories are supposed to be about – the newspaper.”


Well, I beg to differ.

While it’s true my association with newspapers is more personal than most (I’ve worked at dailies, weeklies, bi-weeklies and for a wire service), if you’re reading this, you have an association with a paper, too.

Why? Because it tells you about home—your home. And when you read the paper, in a sense, you’re going home.

Don’t be embarrassed. I mean, I realize it’s not cool these days to read the local daily. But see, the reason why every community needs one, or something very like it, still exists: We still need a common understanding of our home.

Here’s how Alexis de Tocqueville put it in “Democracy in America,” a book he wrote in the 19th century:

“When no firm and lasting ties any longer unite men, it is impossible to obtain the cooperation of any great number of them unless you can persuade every man whose help is required that he serves his private interests by voluntarily uniting his efforts to those of all the others.


“That cannot be done habitually and conveniently without the help of a newspaper. Only a newspaper can put the same thought at the same time before a thousand readers.

“A newspaper is an adviser that need not be sought out, but comes of its own accord and talks to you briefly every day about the commonweal without distracting you from your private affairs.

“So the more equal men become and more individualism becomes a menace, the more necessary are newspapers. We should underrate their importance if we thought they just guaranteed liberty; they maintain civilization.”

The Press Herald is one of my homes, even though the building where I worked in the early 1990s is now an elegant hotel, and the cement-block cathedral that once housed the fire-engine red presses that I saw installed now shelters reporters and editors instead.

After many years away, I’ve returned to the landward edge of Casco Bay, and I’m thrilled that the paper is still here, still telling the stories about home – your homes and now, mine.

Meetinghouse is a community storytelling project hosted by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

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