A Message from George Capsis
The pandemic became real to me when the Northwell medical complex on Seventh Avenue attached a truck to their building to discreetly remove the bodies of virus victims. How it would financially impact the paper became very real when a leading real estate firm sent a polite letter backing out of a contract to advertise on the back page of the paper because they were not allowed to conduct clients to their rental and sales offerings; and a restaurant does not advertise if they can’t open the front door.
The paper was costing way more than we were bringing in from rapidly eroding advertising or subscription sales, and a realistic appraisal was that the virus would go on for many months until it naturally abated or a vaccine was discovered and administered to a good part of the planet’s population—which, obviously, is many, many, months away. It was apparent that giving away twelve thousand copies of a very expensive 36-page color-replete newspaper for free each month, when the former three cents per copy New York Times now costs $3.00, could not go on very much longer and something had to give.
WHY IS WESTVIEW NEWS FREE ANYWAY?
Not only is WestView News free, but it is delivered to the lobbies of many apartment buildings each month; and every once in a while I get a call from an irate reader: “You did not deliver my free copy of the paper this month. Please have somebody bring it over right now!”
Yes, well, WestView has been free because it evolved from the Charles Street Block Association four-page photocopied newsletter given to the yearly dues-paying association members. (That was only a thousand copies not 12 thousand.)
It was my error to let the paper grow in size and to increase the print run month after month. It was only when Sarah Jessica Parker complimented us for giving the paper away for free that I realized that error. And then came the pandemic and my error became a collision course. But when I began considering that unless we got advertising, and more of our thousands of readers paid for subscriptions, we would soon be out of business, I asked myself how would I feel about that? I would not like it. The paper keeps my small crew of staff members and me alive.
I started to cut down on the number of papers we printed, only to be confronted by ex-seaman Tim, our distribution manager, who chided me: while I may be the publisher, the WestView readers were his and he had to have enough papers for his readers.
Then Roger Paradiso began talking to me about “crowdfunding,” that he had used to fund one of his films, and I talked to the young lady who had run that effort for him and felt chills. I could not believe that people were going to click online and send us money to keep the paper alive. But they did, and you, our readers, still are. We asked you to help because our beloved local newspaper is in danger of folding forever. You answered with a surge of donations, messages, and even ad requests!
The nearly $20,000 we have raised surprises and delights me, but the messages of support touch my heart. I read your compliments with disbelief and they stir emotions I did not know I had. “We cannot afford to lose this unique and timely vehicle that helps us care for all and each other.” I never expected to read words like that. Your comments and well-wishes mean the world to us and we are overwhelmed by your love and support for the paper. Thank you for sharing your heartful appreciation. Your compliments are the real gold…
You’ve helped us keep the lights on, pay the printer, and pay our small staff their modest salaries. And you’ve brightened the hearts of everyone who contributes to WestView News. Your kind and generous responses to our request for help send a strong message confirming how much the paper means to you and that our efforts matter.
So, my readers, allay your fears—I want to keep the paper going and I don’t want it to be just an online paper. I will do my best to keep WestView News alive and perhaps make it even better.