“Why did you call it the Provincetown Independent?” That’s probably the question we are asked most frequently at our Open Newsroom sessions at the town libraries and in casual conversations about the reasons for launching a newspaper to cover the Outer Cape.
The Independent, it’s true, is about much more than just Provincetown. Our mission is to cover all four of our towns with equal depth and insight into local government, history, and culture. Why not call it the Outer Cape Independent, or something similar that gives a fairer sense of our coverage area?
We thought about it seriously. And we certainly understand the sense of pride that advocates of Truro, Wellfleet, and Eastham feel about those towns. We very nearly named the paper the Outermost Post, which got good reactions from many of the people we tested it on.
Naming a new venture is a fraught business. Once you pick a name, you’re pretty much stuck with it. I’m reminded of the ill-fated restaurant in Wellfleet that was named “Monkey See, Monkey Do.” Someone thought that was cute, I imagine. It’s tough to recover from that kind of stumble.
The more we thought about newspaper names, the more we were drawn to the ones that had a solid geographical anchor, that were grounded in a clearly identified place that was right there on the nameplate. Where I grew up the local paper was the Bergen Record. I never liked it as much after its name was shortened to the Record.
I have come to associate that sense of grounding, of a secure anchorage, with Provincetown, even though we don’t live there. When we first bought our dumpy, drafty little house in Wellfleet and came out from the city every weekend to work on fixing its endless flaws, we huddled by the wood stove on Saturday nights listening to Scott Penn on WOMR and felt comforted and connected. And when our own town seemed deserted and cold on winter nights we went to readings at the Fine Arts Work Center crowded with ideas, stories, and characters.
The Independent is devoted to advancing the civic, cultural, and spiritual life of Outer Cape Cod, and Provincetown, the furthest out of these outermost towns, is our capital city — the gravitational center that pulls us to it.
It’s also where newspapers for the Outer Cape have been published since at least the 1850s. Reading the archives of the old Advocate, we find the stories of all of our towns with their fascinating and strange idiosyncracies — all recorded through the decades in the pages of the Provincetown newspaper.
We are proud to be continuing that long tradition in a town like no other, with a name that tells people everywhere exactly where we stand in the world.