Sun-Gazette: 213 years of community service
For the past 213 years, the Sun-Gazette has provided local news coverage for the Greater Williamsport area, and it’s still going strong.
The Sun-Gazette has thrived on its relationships within the community, in particular its rapport with the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce. Sun-Gazette publisher Bernie Oravec said that the paper has been a part of the chamber ever since it received the moniker in 1955, and that it’s suspected its ties to the chamber go back farther than that.
The relationship has been a mutually beneficial one.
In conjunction with the chamber, the Sun-Gazette sends out the monthly newsletter (The Chamber Connection) and provides community programming that adds to the area, like sponsorship of the Little League Grand Slam and holiday parades.
Vince Matteo, president of the chamber, spoke highly of the newspaper.
“They’ve been a member for an extremely long time and a good, solid citizen,” he said of the Sun-Gazette’s involvement with the group.
Oravec also sung praises for the work the two have done together over the years.
“We’ve really enjoyed our partnership with the local chamber over the years. I think it’s imperative that all local media, not just the Sun-Gazette, partner up with their chamber of commerce because there are many things that we do together to both grow business in the area and also promote the Lycoming County area,” he said.
The relationship doesn’t get in the way of news coverage, though. Matteo commented that the paper always reports accurately and honestly, even if it’s not something the chamber agrees with.
“We’re proud to have the Sun-Gazette as a chamber member…and of all of the things we do together, and that is the business side. I’ve always managed to understand and the Sun-Gazette has always managed to do that, that (the relationship) does not impact the news and how they may report on something that the chamber is involved in or not involved in. I think that’s very important for people to understand. There are two facets to the relationship,” he said.
The most important relationship for the Sun-Gazette is its relationship with the community at large.
“It all comes back to trying to do what’s best for the community, and as the only local newspaper, it’s important for us to be part of that process,” Oravec said.
The paper employs 175 full- and part-time staffers and has agreements with over 300 independent contractors to assist in delivery of the paper.
For supplies or services needed, the Sun-Gazette uses almost exclusively local suppliers, with the exception of newsprint, which is not available in the area. The Sun-Gazette pumps millions of dollars into the local economy every year.
Oravec enjoys creating a unique product for the community that changes daily. The paper, he said, gives people in the area a chance to be showcased for their efforts.
It also provides a voice to the community, having one of the highest numbers of published letters to the editor in the state.
“It’s a great asset for the community, not only for the news, sports and advertising values, but also to give everyone a chance to have their voices heard or their photos in the paper,” Oravec said.
The paper has expanded even further recently with its online presence. Subscribers have the chance to get their news from the Sun-Gazette’s website, www.sungazette.com, or from Facebook, Twitter or the paper’s smartphone and tablet applications.
According to Oravec, the Sun-Gazette sees over 100 new digital subscribers a week.
The Sun-Gazette also publishes West Branch Life and Central PA Shale Play.
“More people are reading and viewing Sun-Gazette products today than at any other time in our 213-year history. It is an exciting time to be part of the community,” Oravec said.