CUMBERLAND, R.I. (WPRI) — For Ethan Shorey, being chief editor of The Valley Breeze isn’t a 9-to-5 job.
Shorey, alongside his staff, spends most of his Wednesday and Thursday mornings delivering roughly 50,000 free newspapers to more than 800 newspaper racks dispersed throughout northern Rhode Island.
“I’m part of their routine and they’re part of my routine,” Shorey said of the newspaper’s dedicated readers. “We sip coffee for a few minutes and talk about the day’s news.”
The Valley Breeze consists of five weekly newspapers covering communities across northern Rhode Island, including Lincoln, Cumberland, Woonsocket, Pawtucket and North Smithfield.
And the newspaper itself has quite the following.
“What’s amazing about The Breeze is it’s still super popular in print,” Shorey said. “I go out and deliver them and I see people waiting for them.”
It’s quite impressive, considering many newspapers across the country have all but vanished during the digital age.
“Good local journalism at a weekly free paper is pretty rare,” he said. “You won’t find that many places in this country.”
So, how did Shorey get here? The Cumberland resident tells 12 News he developed a love for reporting at an early age.
“I had wanted to be in the newspaper business since I was 10,” Shorey said. “I started reading The Sun Chronicle.”
Shorey said he loved reading the Attleboro paper, especially the sports and comic pages.
But his zest for reporting is also in his blood. Shorey said his grandfather was in the business for 50 years.
“It was kind of a romantic thing in my mind,” Shorey said. “He would go out late at night to work the presses. Then we would do wood-working in the basement, listen to the radio and talk about the newspaper stories.”
Shorey said what he values most is the connections he’s made within the community.
“The community aspect of it is what I really love,” Shorey said. “We can tell people what’s happening on their street, what’s happening up the street, what government officials are doing.”
To Shorey, who also serves as co-president of the Rhode Island Press Association, journalism matters.
And he hopes it to matters to his readers, too.
“If we lose local news coverage, we’re doomed,” Shorey said. “People need to realize that having someone in the community, it connects people. It holds government accountable.”
“If we’re not there, nobody’s telling the story,” he added.
Shorey said one of the most rewarding parts of his job is being part of something special.
“I get to see people. I get to hear their concerns,” Shorey explained. “There’s something really fun about producing an entire product and then delivering it and seeing it.”
“At this point, I think I’m going to be doing it when I’m 80 because I don’t want to lose that,” he continued.
The Valley Breeze prints two editions on Wednesdays and three on Thursdays. He said a sixth newspaper covering Central Falls will be rolled into the Pawtucket edition.