“I thought nobody reads newspapers anymore,” an Upper West Sider told me last week. Except you, reading this column.
You’re not alone, and you’re not a dinosaur.
Across the country, including here downtown, within the media capital of the world, local news — news about neighbors and the neighborhood — continues to flourish.
Deliver a newspaper full of really local news into peoples’ homes and it gets read. Yes, even here in Manhattan. That’s why we’re delivered to more than 3,000 apartment buildings each week. (The paper, by the way, is also available for mail delivery for a very reasonable $49 per year).
Local news in print gets read. Of course we’re also on the web for those who prefer their news online, at otdowntown.com. But even local news sites that started as online-only entities have jumped on the bandwagon and recognized that they also need a printed product.
In June, the leading news trade publication Editor and Publisher wrote, “Community newspapers across the country are not just surviving, but — in many cases — actually thriving.”
Warren Buffett, the oracle of Omaha, bought up dozens of local newspapers a few years ago and in his letter to shareholders explained that “Newspapers continue to reign supreme ... in the delivery of local news. If you want to know what’s going on in your town ... there is no substitute for a local newspaper that is doing its job. A reader’s eyes may glaze over after they take in a couple of paragraphs about Canadian tariffs or political developments in Pakistan; a story about the reader himself or his neighbors will be read to the end. Wherever there is a pervasive sense of community, a paper that serves the special informational needs of that community will remain indispensable to a significant portion of its residents.”
That’s what this paper is all about: nurturing the sense of community that exists, even thrives, within Manhattan’s distinct neighborhoods.
To do local news in a way that resonates takes hard work, talent and people who are willing to get out of their chairs and go walk around a neighborhood. It’s not something that can be assigned to people rewriting copy in the Philippines or India. Here at Straus News, we’re fortunate to have a sensational team of dedicated New Yorkers putting the paper together for you each week. In the three and a half years since we acquired the papers, we’re proud to have broken a number of important stories, including a piece about how drivers that kill pedestrians are rarely prosecuted, an in-depth analysis which found that Manhattan private schools are more ethnically and economically diverse than public schools, a rundown of locally owned neighborhood establishments shuttering (which The New York Times reprised just last Saturday), and a year-long look at independently owned businesses that have thrived for 50 years.
Some of our stories were later picked up by The Times and other media outlets, others were simply too local to interest people outside the neighborhood.
We turn to you to help us continue to report what’s happening in the neighborhood and nurture our reviving sense of community. Call or write us with your neighborhood story ideas, or simply to ask, “What’s up with that?” We can be reached at email@example.com or 212-868-0190.