We need you. You need us.

Let’s figure out a way to work together

Posted 1/31/24

Make no mistake. Newspapers are in trouble.

On January 17, the 100-year-old independently owned Scarsdale Inquirier ceased publication. The publisher and her staff are anxiously looking for a …

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We need you. You need us.

Let’s figure out a way to work together


Make no mistake. Newspapers are in trouble.

On January 17, the 100-year-old independently owned Scarsdale Inquirer ceased publication. The publisher and her staff are anxiously looking for a means to continue to publish. 

Sports Illustrated has laid off most of its reporters. The LA Times let go of 20 percent of its editorial staff, and billionaire owner Jeff Bezos is reducing the staff at the Washington Post in order to stem losses there.

Sustaining losses is something that the River Reporter is very accustomed to. Since 1985, when ownership was assumed by Stuart Communications, Inc., the paper made a profit one year, a couple of thousand dollars. We have accumulated tax losses in the tens of thousands. 

Still, we plug on.

Through the years, (50 next year!) we have been frugal, and we have been able to sustain ourselves with low wages, creative financing, 90-day notes and generous family, friends and community members. In the beginning as Tusten Times, Inc., founder Beth Peck would provide a little cash to get the paper through the winter. Businessman Larry Fishman, who at the time owned Majestic Drug, used to buy weekly ads for his national men’s grey hair and denture products and pay for them upfront in the first quarter.

We have gotten through with the generosity of, first and foremost, mission-driven staff accepting low wages, talented columnists who virtually gift their work to the paper, loyal business supporters and you, our beloved readers.

In one sense, our readers are the point of it all. The newspaper is dedicated to giving you the information that you need. Your connection to the community. The means to be an active and knowledgeable citizen bringing your own unique community service into being. And telling others about it!

Beyond that, newspapers are essential to a working democracy. At a time when it’s getting harder and harder to differentiate self-serving, divisive, and fake news, newspapers—particularly independent local newspapers—need to be supported and nurtured. 

Which is all to say that we need your continued support in a multitude of ways.

Most importantly, we need people to subscribe. (You’d be surprised how many people you know who do not get the paper.) Could you talk us up and encourage people to subscribe? We’ll supply talking points if you need them. Does your organization want to host a subscription drive for your own fundraising?

There’s one caveat on that: With rising costs of printing, payroll (minimum wage was just raised) and postage, we’re raising our subscription and newsstand prices. On February 29, the one-year subscription will rise from $62 to $72 and the price on the newsstand will change from $1.50 to $2. Additionally, we are asking readers who can afford it to become a sustaining subscriber at a rate of $100 or more.

On the editorial side, we could use more eyes in the field. Are you willing to help us keep a watch on local government and attend one of your town meetings (town board, planning board, zoning board of appeals, school board meetings) and report to us what was discussed there as one of our trained news ambassadors?

And generally, are you willing to think creatively about how you can support the River Reporter?

We hope so.

For the record, all is not dire.

There is support in the wider community. There are bills on both the state and the national level that are designed to require that public information from governmental agencies be advertised in local newspapers. (Please let your state and national representatives know to support those bills.) Additionally, understanding the need for equitable distribution of essential local news, philanthropic news industry organizations—Knight Ridder, Pontyer, and the Lenfest Institute among others—are creating grant programs to support newspapers. Community foundations are exploring their role in supporting local news outlets.

Interestingly enough, with the announcement that the Scarsdale Inquirer has ceased publication, Westchester investors and lovers of that stellar award-winning paper have stepped up and are exploring how to keep that paper and its two sister papers going. 

I have no doubt they will find a way. It’s what we do, together.



local, newspapers, in trouble, funding, community, support


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