How could such a thing happen…were the reporters all asleep, the editors on the take, too? Where were the watchdogs?
Well, there is no newspaper dedicated to that municipality. You find that they read the Los Angeles Times and maybe one or two regional publications.
Imagine such a thing happening in Woodstock, or any of the towns served by a good local newspaper, one that reports the salaries of the public officials, tells the people what they are doing.
And so we mark the demise of Phoenicia Times and the Olive Press (a great name that.) No, they were not us, though, as they were doing what our publisher considers to be ‘God’s work’ we did tolerate some shared stories, writers, and our correspondent Paul Smart moonlighted as their editor (or was he their editor, moonlighting as our correspondent?) They were kinda like a bastard cousin to us, not really related but still family; able to infuriate us (well, me, anyway) by re-editing, or un-editing copy on stories that were thought to be finished, swiping a letter to the editor or two.
Maybe it was the business model that was bad — a free paper (no revenue there) that was mailed for free to thousands of homes (big expense there). Or maybe the ad base that provides the revenue just wasn’t large enough, or the organization wasn’t thorough enough to make its collections.
The papers engaged in ferocious combat with Dean Gitter over his proposed Belleayre Resort (and, of all ironies, the paper’s farewell party will be at the Emerson, owned by Gitter); followed Onteora schools and the Large Parcel issue; the Phoenicia sewer issue, and countless others in its nine-plus years. Yes, we cover those issues, too, and hopefully some of their readers will find what they need in our pages.
The publisher, Brian Powers, delivers his valedictory this week on Page 8.
But communities that have news organizations covering them benefit. Like them or not, people will read local newspapers. No one else is covering what they do. We’re grateful for that, because that’s what we do, how we survive in this climate where everyone is predicting that newspapers will soon be gone.
So farewell, cousin. The folks knew you well. They knew what the salaries of their public officials were.++