When Vineyard Gazette editor Julia Wells hired me as a reporter in the fall of 2006, she took a big risk. Then again, at such a little paper, most risks are big.

A very recent college graduate with a bare minimum of journalism experience — two college courses and a summer newspaper internship — I wasn’t looking to become a writer, a reporter or a journalist. I was three months into a good job at an Ivy League university. But the summer before, a part of me had unexpectedly fallen head over heels in love with the paper and its subject — the Island of Martha’s Vineyard and the people who call the Island home, who live so as to preserve the Island’s unique physical majesty and unparalleled sense of community.

I had spent three months as a summer intern at the Gazette before starting my postcollege job, and it just seemed as if my work there wasn’t done. It was like an itch that needed scratching. And so back I went, leaving behind a job and a city apartment. Over the next two years I learned invaluable lessons, about writing and about life.

There are many examples, but I have a couple of favorites. Number one: Take a notebook and get out there — roam the streets, stop into town halls, ask questions, talk to people. In an age of e-mail, tweeting and a cell phone in every pocket, I learned to put down the telephone and shut off the computer. I learned to listen, to look up as I walked, and to sniff around if something seemed fishy.

Number two: Never leave a selectmen’s meeting early. It’s simple advice that Ms. Wells passed on early in my Gazette stint, but it goes to the heart of real journalism — arrive early, stay until after the bitter end and take notes on everything. You never know when a story will break.

The Gazette provided me with experiences that most young writers — or for that matter any writer — can only dream about: interviews with Pulitzer Prize winners, best-selling authors, politicians and filmmakers. That was fun, but not my bread and butter. The best stories — oyster farming at dawn on Katama Bay, standing with a young couple as their just-opened first restaurant burned to the ground, learning from Jim Athearn what makes for good soil, mourning with a community the life of a Cape Air pilot cut tragically short — came from the people of the Vineyard. And it was everyday Island people who were the stars in a series that took home the New England Press Association awards that year, my first at the Gazette. Our little paper came away with 13 other awards — 13! — that day. It was physical proof of the magic that went on behind closed doors, where an overworked, driven team of reporters, photographers and editors upheld true journalistic writing and reporting.

And so it was with a happy heart that I learned this Thanksgiving weekend of the sale of the newspaper to philanthropists and longtime seasonal Vineyard residents Jerome (Jerry) Kohlberg and his wife, Nancy. The story quickly broke in the national news, as well it should have. Who invests in newspapers these days? Especially black-and-white broadsheet newspapers? In my eyes, the Kohlbergs are heroes.

There are many reasons why. The purchase will bring financial stability to the Gazette and keep the Vineyard a two-newspaper town. It will maintain Island history. It will allow the Gazette staff to keep reporting on the important news of the day for Island residents and visitors. But in my mind, the Kohlbergs’ heroism comes in preserving another tradition, one started by the outgoing publishing family, the Restons.

In the Gazette story about the sale of the paper last week, Ms. Wells wrote: “The Restons also firmly cemented the Gazette’s role as a teaching paper and training ground for young reporters, photographers, page designers and advertising salesmen; Scotty Reston famously called the newspaper a laboratory for young writers.” The Gazette laid a solid foundation for my own career in journalism, as it did for so many who came before me. In his farewell editorial in Friday’s Gazette Richard Reston thanked the staff of the newspaper — current and past. “The accomplishments of the Gazette staff over the years are unparalleled,” he wrote.

With the purchase, future generations of cub reporters will continue to blossom here. And the Gazette staff will continue to be unparalleled.

Julia Rappaport is assistant arts and lifestyle editor at the Boston Herald.