By Mary Kate Leming, Editor

Most years at this time we’d be planning our annual Coastal Star holiday party. We like to kick off the new year by getting everyone who works for the newspaper together for an afternoon of socializing.

Many have worked together in years past at other publications, but now seldom see each other in our distributed work environment.

Missing this annual gathering is difficult. Zoom is good for many things, but can’t replace chatting one-on-one with people you like and respect.

And 2020 was a difficult year for everyone at The Coastal Star.

Beyond basic COVID-19 fears have come cancer and hospitalizations and loss. Siblings, parents, children and grandchildren are far away. The additional freelance work on which our employees depend has dwindled, leaving those not on pensions struggling with finances.

When people miss deadlines, or file lifeless stories or break down in tears during the editing process, I reach into my management toolkit for extra patience. I realize everyone is struggling.

The process of reporting — never easy — became far more difficult in 2020.

None of us is immune from the stress we lived through this past year. And now, covering remote meetings is proving to be a new, difficult challenge. Reporters are often stuck streaming bad audio or relying on town hall recordings acquired days after an in-person meeting; I can’t safely require anyone who works for me to attend an indoor gathering.

So instead of a holiday party (at least until much later in the year), I’d like to use this space to recognize everyone who works to pull together this newspaper each month: You are an amazing and talented team. Thank you for your commitment to providing the best news and information to our coastal communities, both in print and online.

And thank you to our readers for your words of encouragement, and our advertisers for financially supporting the paper this past year.

Here’s to better times in 2021. Happy New Year!

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