"The News Starts Here!"
Since 2003, Hopkinton News

P.O. Box 351, Hopkinton, MA 01748



HopNews is Celebrating its 15th Anniversary

by Robert Falcione


August 26, 2018 -- September of 2003 was when the journalism bug bit me fully. I was writing a column for each issue of the Hopkinton Independent and submitting feature photos to that local, then-5 year-old endeavor that the idea for HopNews came to me  [Mouse-over portrait for recent image]. Our WHO IS record confirms 11 sep -2003 as the "Creation" date for Hopkinton News, our trademarked name, for which "HopNews" is short. We intentionally postponed the celebration this year to allow the anniversary of the other, very solemn occasion that occurs on that day, to pass.


I modeled it after traditional newsprint publications with many of the features they had: News, Police activity, Obituaries, Sports, Arts, Opinions, Editorials, Cartoons, Governmental Meeting Reports, Features. We soon discovered that some of the categories could become stale quickly, and so not long afterward, all of the news and features began near the top of Page One, and then scroll down as more recent content went on top.  Page One became Page Two, became Page Three, and then into the Archives. There were a couple of striking differences with traditional printing of newspapers, of which HopNews took immediate advantage. Speed and color.  Linking to other pages, photos, videos and information from a story was also an advantage of online news.


We were recognized in a December 15, 2005 story by writer Lisa Kocian in the Boston Globe for "...cutting-edge journalism."


We could get news online as quickly as we could type, and Hopkinton people began to notice. Hearing a siren, people have told us, they checked HopNews, looking for a photo or story of the activity. Soon enough, as a result of our speedy and insider coverage of the unfortunate and vile murders in Hopkinton of a mother and baby by the family's patriarch in January, 2006, an interested nation and world would know HopNews.com, too. [Retrospective here].  Jeff Glor, now anchor of CBS Evening News with Jeff Glor, was a frequent visitor, both cyber and in person. during that investigation.


Video and large photos became a part of the capabilities of the blossoming high-speed World Wide Web, as people abandoned dial-up for DSL, and soon afterward, for cable and fiber. We were a bit ahead of the curve, and could do nothing more for our dial-up readers than apologize and suggest they upgrade. They did.


One of the first feature photos, taken at PolyArts 2003, was of then-nouveau potter, retired art teacher, Carol Mecagni, above . Unfortunately, those early pages, written by hand in html language, were not archived. However, our archives do begin in February of 2005. We apologize in advance for older videos no longer easily available due to server changes.


In those early days, we reported, before anyone, on the under-the-radar offering of hundreds of acres of Weston Nurseries land, the formation of a committee to study it, the offering to the town for purchase, and the Town Meeting thumbs down that followed. Subsequently, Town Meeting approved the building of 940 homes, to which another 180 were added in a recent year.


There was a Fruit Street Study committee, the conversation of which ignited a political conflagration, and propelled new local personalities into politics.


 The Charter Commission members (Right, HopNews cartoon by then 20 year-old Hopkinton native, Ashley Jackson) were voted in, and its work began. We were there. Its statutory ten-year review has already passed during our tenure, after having been fulfilled.


The debate leading up to the purchase of the Lake Whitehall property by the town saw threats of arrests by one town department, and threats of a trial by Selectmen from another. There was a lot of political bloodletting. HopNews did its best to give all sides of every issue a voice, and continues that practice today.


It is all documented in our archive, since 2005, where readers will find hundreds of pages, and on our YouTube site, where hundreds of original videos are also archived, both media documenting years of intense, incessant work.


We keep up the hard work and special features. People wonder why we do things a certain way. Well, as with any sole proprietorship, especially one of a creative nature, a lot of the influences are personal, like our inclination to share news releases from the State Police in spite of being distinctly Hopkinton-centric. Not only have we known some Troopers from Hopkinton personally, but this writer's aunt retired from the Department of Public Safety, which ran the State Police way back when, and so we are longtime fans of the organization. Besides, who doesn't like cops and robbers stories?


We were there in 2010 when the Massachusetts State Police installed their first female Colonel Superintendent. See the video here, which contains interviews following the event with then Middlesex District Attorney and Hopkinton resident, Gerry Leone, and of Colonel Marian McGovern herself, by HopNews student reporter David Sheehan. Ms. McGovern spoke about her rise in the department and the role of women in general in the workplace. It was a feature story of historical significance. Among other HopNews events, Mr. Sheehan also interviewed people at the Education Foundation Gala the same year and was given kudos by his professional counterpart on video during the interview.


HopNews was also the first with the story about the sale of Colella's Supermarket for $3.3 million. One of the principals informed us of the sale, which we then researched and presented the facts to HopNews readers.


We will keep doing what we do: Presenting as much original reporting, and photographs and video as possible, in an honest and accurate way, albeit condensed for the web.


One of our annual features is a photographic essay on the B.A.A. Boston Marathon each Patriots Day in April.  On that day in 2010, television professional Andrew Sweeney, working for HopNews for a few months while he awaited his contract position elsewhere, produced a "sights and sounds" video report on the Boston Marathon.  Mr. Sweeney also mentored my great-nephew, Austin; one such video is here, of the Grafton-Upton Railroad renewal.


Three years after Andrew's marathon video, not long after terrorists ignited bombs near the Finish Line of the marathon in 2013 that killed three people, local musical talent and runner Amanda Maffei asked me to videotape her new song, "Run Boston Strong," performing it at home on her piano. Following that, she gathered musicians together and recorded the moving crescendo at Barbara Kessler's studio. Yours truly put it over a video I took of that year's Start., along with some canned footage of Hopkinton. Enjoy it for the first time, or again, HERE. Amanda was in her runners' corral a year or so later when emcee Jacques LeDuc, on the reviewing stand, having received a CD from this writer, played it for everyone there.


It has been a thoroughly enjoyable 15 years of gathering news, writing features, interviewing people in the seats of power, in local, state and national positions, as well as people of all walks, always interesting, and sometimes outright amazing; and being able to take photographs and video to share instantly.


Thank you to the contributors, public servants, photographers, writers, videographers, artists, supporters, advertisers, musicians, actors, reporters, employees and readers who have helped shape and nurture this living, growing documentation of Hopkinton during an amazing technological explosion. Thanks to Office Manager Eric Montville, who never said no to a task given him to learn for the 18 years, through high school and college, that he worked for the photography studio first, and then HopNews, from financial software and management, to Photoshop, to becoming the Director of our live video presentations over many, many Fridays.


Thank you all so very, very much.


Let's try for another 15!

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Updated: November 01, 2018 10:05:44 AM


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