By George Capsis
OH WOW! I got a notice that a Queens City Councilman, Rory Lancman, was coming to the Village for a public meeting with Corey Johnson to propose that the City develop a plan to subsidize community newspapers and keep them alive. But I got the date wrong and missed the meeting!!!
I mean, it was THE most painfully missed date ever so I called Lancman’s office. I finally got to talk to him and poured out my ideas, which he terminated with, “Why don’t you talk to Corey?” I spluttered on for a few minutes because I had the idea that it was something Lancman had already drafted. However, it was only an idea prompted by one of the waning four community newspapers in his district.
So, on January 4th, Corey Johnson will be the official Speaker of the New York City Council and I will send him a draft of, if not a bill, at least a plan as to how the City can save community newspapers.
So, okay, what’s the problem? Money, or the lack of it? The computer savvy do not take out ads in old-fashioned, Benjamin Franklin newspapers. Witness the recent death of the print version of The Village Voice.
Hey, do we really need old-fashioned newspapers? Of course, I’m prejudiced and that prejudice may match my gray hair. (At age 12, I sold the New York Times at P.S. 192 for three cents a copy).
I recently received an old-fashioned, handwritten envelope with a 1963 Kennedy stamp from a WestView reader, offering that he liked to enjoy coffee with his copy of WestView and “mull over issues of the neighborhood.”
Us ancients who grew up with newspapers still want to hold a newspaper in our hands. But with the Times costing $2.50 a copy (I can’t believe it), WestView is an acceptable substitute. Still, do send us $12 for a year’s subscription.
Okay, what is the legislation that I need to get Corey to introduce to save community newspapers? Simple—The City will advertise.
There is a program now for the state, and maybe the federal government, to take out ads like ‘Don’t smoke’ in daily or weekly newspapers, but not in monthlies. So WestView gets none of these ads, but it still tells the truth and telling the truth is expensive.
We print Arthur Z. Schwartz’s anger at Mount Sinai for closing down Beth Israel piecemeal without permission from the New York State Health Commissioner; Beth Israel then chastises us by giving ads to our competition. Once again, the truth is expensive.
Now that Corey is stamped as the next Speaker, I am no longer getting responses from his office so I must depend on you, my reader, to send him a note saying, “Hey, yes, if the City matches campaign funds so would-be candidates can sound off, it should subsidize community newspapers to print community news—news that cannot be found in any other source.”
I mean, now that Corey is the second-most powerful man in New York City government, we should now, in detail, learn of the legislation he will propose to protect rent-stabilized tenants. That simple explanation will be in a full-page ad paid for by the City. So, you the reader gets the message right from our representatives’ mouths and helps the messenger survive.
What do you think? We will print your responses in the next issue of WestView and put a copy on Corey’s brand new Speaker’s Desk.