For all avid Millerton News readers the name Whitney Joseph is a very familiar one. For those not familiar with who Whitney is, she was the editor of the local paper for well nearly 20 years. In her time reporting the news, she had a major impact on the small community of Millerton and beyond. She not just reported the news, but she became an integral part of the community, making life-long connections.
Last year, Whitney started a new chapter in her life, one that brought her back to her native Florida. Working on this anniversary issue it reminded me of Whitney reaching out to me before the first issue of Main Street Magazine hit newsstands. She was so kind and encouraging, and she wrote up a wonderful story about Ashley and me starting the magazine. In the years since, Whitney and I stayed in touch and collaborated on stories from time to time. I always enjoyed talking to and working with her, and although she’ll be missed, I’m so excited for her new chapter.
And with those thoughts, I asked Whitney if we could include her in this special birthday issue. I wanted to let all of her readers, followers, and friends hear her thoughts on her time in our community and how she’s doing in her new chapter of life. With that, here is Whitney Joseph, in her own words:
What brought you to this area originally, and how long were you here?
I am originally from North Miami Beach, FL, but I went to Emerson College in Boston to study broadcast journalism. I was fortunate enough to get a job at a television station in Kingston, NY, a number of months before graduation. My professors encouraged me to take the job and finish my classwork via mail for the last few months – they were just so excited I got a job on air!
I worked as a reporter for a few years at a cable news network in Kingston but then tired of broadcast news at the local level. It was a lot of fun – don’t get me wrong – and it definitely fed my ego, but it left me wanting to spend more time focusing on the topics I was covering at a deeper level. I didn’t feel I was able to really delve into important issues and discover details that could give viewers real information or real help. I just didn’t think that the one-and-a-half minute news packages I was limited to producing at the local level were helping anyone improve their lives or really making a difference. At the same time, a string of news directors were focusing on things that were making me disillusioned with broadcast news: telling us reporters to be sure we were walking while talking on air, insisting we were holding objects while on camera, or other such silliness that seemed of no consequence.
So, I stopped reporting for a bit and worked as a freelance videographer and video editor, doing on-air work occasionally. Mainly I focused on my technical skills, which I always loved to develop. In the meantime, I met my future husband and settled in Poughkeepsie for a few years.
After we married, we bought a home in Wassaic. By that time, I really missed the news, especially the writing aspect. I have always had a nose for news, a natural inclination to sniff out a good story and follow through with the people who give it its heart and soul. Of course, once I became part of the Amenia community, I immediately began reading The Millerton News and pretty quickly I noticed an ad for a full-time reporter.
I was thrilled to see that ad, and I applied posthaste. I got that job, thankfully, and worked under editor Ron Lyon. Ron was a lot of fun, but he was let go shortly after I arrived. I was offered the position of editor upon his departure, and I was thrilled to accept. I was pretty prepared in all avenues with one exception – I had never done any editorial writing – but my biggest fear turned out to be my very favorite task.
Writing that weekly editorial for The Millerton News turned out to be not only one of my largest responsibilities, but also my very favorite thing to do. Penning the editorial week after week was a gargantuan challenge, but it was also something in which I worked to make sure I always remained extremely fair and balanced – no matter the topic – and one in which I took great pride in getting onto the page each and every week. In fact, no matter how daunting the subject matter, I always relished the task of writing that editorial.
How long did you work for The Millerton News, and how long were you the editor?
I left the paper in late September of 2022, after serving just under 20 years as editor. I spent fewer than six months as a staff reporter at the there before being promoted.
What did you initially think of the community?
I loved Millerton from the first moment I visited it. I remember my first foray into the village. I went to Millerton on my own at the end of one summer, after moving to Amenia. It was on my birthday, at the end of August, and I was alone for the day with nothing to do. So I went to Manna Dew and treated myself to lunch. It was lovely, and I thought of how charming the village was and how happy I was to live only 20 minutes from such an idyllic community. And then I picked up a copy of the newspaper, so things just kept getting better!
In your time working within the community, for The Millerton News, what are some of the most memorable things that stood out for you?
There have been so many wonderful moments, and events, in Millerton. Certainly, I have to say it’s the people that make the community itself so incredibly special. They are what make Millerton such a superlative place, unlike any other I’ve ever come across in my 50 years.
That said, I also love Millerton’s special events: the holiday parades, Christmas holiday festivities, Earth Day festivities, Fall for Art fairs, Legion’s Memorial Day and Veteran Day events, Spring for Sound, and NECC’s clean-up events and parties. The list goes on and on.
Over the years, being so ingrained in the community, what are some of the things that you saw change?
Certainly I would say that Main Street has really evolved over the years, and I can’t say it’s for better or for worse, it’s just the natural course of time. Things change, that’s what happens.
Families come into communities, like the Ternis for instance, who came from Italy and established Terni’s Store on Main Street in Millerton more than 100 years ago. They created an iconic shop and a legacy that is in the NorthEast Historical Society’s archives and in the memory banks of the old-timers and locals who graced our village for generations, just like the Ternis, who saddened so many when they decided to sell their gorgeous green building. But on the flip side, the new owners might do something fabulous when they renovate and revive that historic landmark site.
So, it’s impossible to say that it’s better or worse, it’s just change, and change is inevitable. But certainly, the Millerton Business Alliance, which I know you were so active with, is doing an amazing job ensuring Millerton will be heading in the right direction.
Are there certain characters from your time here who will forever live in your memories?
Absolutely. The late Mike Rindsberg, the former Webutuck superintendent, was someone with whom I always loved speaking and who really seemed to enjoy telling me stories from the good old days. He also appeared to appreciate the newspaper and what he read week to week.
Likewise, the late Mayor Jake Shoifet was another local character and blast from the past who loved to bring me up to speed on Millerton’s history. He was absolutely wonderful, as was his late wife, Shirley.
And of course, the late North East Town Councilman Sam Kaplan was the definition of a character. He wrote the book on being an original, and I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone quite like him, and that’s what’s so great – despite all of his eccentricities, many people did like him!
During my 20-year tenure, I met many fantastic men and women. Many, too many to mention, are now gone. They were wonderful to me, and I so appreciated them.
There are many still here, too, that I’m grateful for knowing. Certainly, my volunteer reporter of the past few years, Carol Kneeland, has been invaluable. I consider her, along with her husband, Theodore, my dynamic duo. My former reporter, Kaitlin Lyle, was also a sweetheart, and went above and beyond the call of duty to be helpful, dutiful, and kind to everyone – more than what was required by her job description.
My former reporter Judith O’Hara Balfe and office manager Betty Abrams were also amazing women to work with and remain close friends of mine. Amiee (yes, this odd spelling is correct) Duncan, landlord of the newspaper’s old office on Century Boulevard and co-owner, with her husband Frank, of Northwest Lawn & Landscaping is another great friend; so is their office manager, Jenn Duncan (who was my previous office manager before she had her first child). They’ve all been incredibly supportive during the past year and through my recent life changes. I realize how lucky I’ve been to be surrounded by such strong women and faithful friends. They’ll stand by me no matter what, and I cannot begin to express my gratitude to them or my love for them.
Carol works closely with Rhiannon, the librarian at the NorthEast-Millerton Library, who has always been fantastic. So, too, were Chris Kennan (North East Town Supervisor) and Jenn Najdek (the mayor of Millerton), two fabulous leaders who know how to work together to get tons done for dual communities. I really appreciate working with such responsive and effective leaders, who focused on getting things done rather than on being voted most popular.
You were kind enough to feature us when we first started ten years ago, interviewing us and doing a write-up about Main Street Magazine. What did you think when we came on the scene?
Firstly, I think it’s amazing that you’ve reached this milestone – congratulations! When you first arrived, I was a tad tentative, naturally. I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of another local media source. But I quickly saw that Main Street was completely different from The Millerton News.
Your magazine is glossy and sophisticated, very professional, and glamorous, despite it being distributed for free. The stories have the space to run a longer format, which is a lovely luxury, and you can print gorgeous photo layouts. You take full advantage of that.
I’ve been a huge fan of your magazine for these ten years and am so glad you’ve reached this marker. I can’t wait to see what you do in the next ten years. I won’t let my recent move prevent me from keeping up with your progress. I’m a huge fan, and I think that you’ve earned every bit of your success. The magazine has done such a fabulous job through the years of expanding on the ideas that really work for you and exploring new ideas that keep things fresh. And the aesthetics of the publication have remained stunning since day one.
In 2022 you began a new chapter in your life that brought you back to Florida, leaving our community and The Millerton News. What would you like to let your readers and neighbors know as you reflect on the past 20 years?
I moved back to my home state of Florida at the very end of April, 2022, as I made some changes in my personal life. It was a big decision and took a lot of energy and effort to make the move, but I did so with the love and support of family and close friends.
It was very difficult to leave the community I had considered home for 20 years; I had been in New York since 1995. It was very tough to leave the job – and the community – that I had come to love. But it was essential for my personal wellbeing, and I am now happier and healthier than I have been in years.
I do, though, miss everyone I’ve dealt with for the newspaper through all these years greatly and all of my wonderful friends and colleagues. I would just like to thank all of those I had the great fortune to get to know for their time and say how honored I feel for everyone letting me into their lives, even if just for a little while. It has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life. •
On behalf of all of your friends, neighbors, and readers, thank you Whitney for dedicating your time, effort, energy, talent, and love to our community for so long! You will be missed, but your impact and the legacy you created will continue on.