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“Some are dissatisfied with the name of the paper, others with the appearance, others with print and paper, and quite a few with the articles. ”

What may come as a surprise is that this summary of Vaba Eesti Sõna reader critiques was written by Jacob Madison, the first President of the Nordic Press in June 1949. Notably, these critical reviews came upon the publication of only the second issue of Vaba Eesti Sõna.

Fortunately, we can say that our readership has undoubtedly become more supportive over the years. But at the same time, we cannot be blind to the fact that these words reflect some of the very same challenges we face today. The name that our newspaper bears today has certainly a different meaning than what it had during the occupation period. Unquestionably, the issues about "print and paper" and "appearance" relate to different issues than they did back then, but are very current, where now the debate centers on electronic vs. print media. Meanwhile, the content of the newspaper has as Madison may have predicted, certainly been debated for 70 years, which, of course, is a good example of the fact that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Madison concluded his editorial at the time by stating how, "In spite of the initial difficulties and the inevitable shortcomings, we move forward, we invite everyone to cooperate in a friendly manner, and promise to serve the general interest of Estonians." And those of us on the Nordic Press Board still possess the same spirit, and issue the same call to our Estonian-American community.

It can be said that a newspaper is the mirror of the face of thousands of people, where it is difficult to find a simple uniformity. Over the years, we have received many great ideas for changing the content and format. We have listened carefully and appreciated and will continue to do so. The reality is that evolution is necessary and it has happened, perhaps not as fast as some would have preferred. But one thought is still certain, that the basic principle of serving Estonians in the U.S. remains central, just as Jacob Madison shared with the readers.

One aspect Madison could not yet discuss is how Vaba Eesti Sõna has for decades served as the newspaper of record of the activities of the Estonian-American community. We consider this an indispensable function. Without Vaba Eesti Sõna, who would chronicle the activities of our community?

Then, in the spirit of continuing the work of Vaba Eesti Sõna  as serving the Estonian-American community, we call upon the members of that community to join us. We invite all interested parties to our annual meeting, on March 21, at the New York Estonian House (beginning at 12am). There are also other ways to help, especially financially. We are especially grateful to those who have helped us with donations and legacies (bequests), and we hope that we can continue to count on such generosity – its importance cannot be overstated. But there are other steps that can also help – for example, shareholders who are no longer actively involved can return their shares (either by donation or other transaction) to Nordic Press to ease the administrative burden of carrying them as we now do (if you have any questions, contact us).

In summary, we carry on a legacy that has been an essential part of Estonian-American society for 70 years. We recognize that it will continue to evolve over the next few years, but we most earnestly hope that you will agree that this is an important part of the life of the Estonian-Americans and will join us in moving it forward.


A Letter From the President of the Nordic Press,


Eric Suuberg


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