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Chamber planning to start newspaper

July 01, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A new weekly newspaper published by the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce will hit the streets this fall, said David G. Sciamanna, Chamber president.

The publisher will be Bill Pukmel, vice president of the Chamber and former editor of the Public Opinion, a daily newspaper in Chambersburg.

The circulation area will include Chambersburg and Greene, Guilford, Hamilton and St. Thomas townships.

Pukmel said the Chamber wants to call the paper the Gazette, providing no legal problems surface with using that name. It will be full size with 28 pages and color on the front and back pages. It will sell for 50 cents a copy.

The paper will have a staff of 11, including Pukmel, an editor, two reporters, and advertising, circulation and office personnel. The editor and reporters have not been hired, he said.

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Pukmel said while all will be Chamber employees, the paper will operate from a separate office to be rented downtown.

Sciamanna said he hopes the paper will fill a need for more extensive community and business coverage and make money for community projects sponsored by the Chamber that have not been adequately funded.

"It will be an opportunity for the Chamber to grow," he said.

Sciamanna said he knows of no other Chamber organization that has its own newspaper.

Pukmel said the new paper's biggest challenge will be to convince readers that it will be "a legitimate, honest-to-goodness, objective newspaper. I know a lot of people will believe that it will carry water for the Chamber. We will have to prove that we are objective.

"Some Chamber members won't like every issue. We will tackle issues, do a community calendar and cover news with a heavy emphasis on business and economic development," he said.

Pukmel said the editorial section "will be unabashedly pro-business."

The Chamber has about 750 members, but they won't be coerced into advertising in the weekly, Pukmel said. "Some local advertisers will use this publication and some won't," he said.

Money to start up the paper comes from the Chamber coffers and some will be borrowed, he said.

Pukmel, 58, has more than 30 years in the news business. He was editor of the Public Opinion for five years until 1992.

"Thirty years was enough," he said.

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