It felt like I had been sitting there for hours, although it was likely merely a matter of minutes.
The small conference room of The Riverdale Press office was filled with books. Hundreds of them. But I didn’t dare get up and look at them. Instead, I was fixated on one picture hanging on the wall in front of me, of a boat sailing down the Hudson River. Thinking about how serene that was, especially in contrast to the feelings I had right at that moment.
I could hear voices outside the door, but couldn’t quite make them out. I recognized none of them, and my blood pressure rose a little more.
Suddenly the door to the conference room burst open, and where I was expecting our general manager, instead I was greeted by a small contingent of much younger people — some looking more nervous than I did. But the man in front had a big smile on his face, and was already extending his hand.
“You’re the new editor!” he proclaimed.
“Yes, I’m Mich-“
“Michael Hinman. Yes, we know already. We’re your new newsroom.”
That was my first day at The Press — five years ago this week, actually. I still had a dark tan (despite it being early March) from the past 24 months I spent in Grenada, a tiny Caribbean island just north of Venezuela. While I had seen many movies and heard many references to the Bronx in my life, this day was just the third day I had ever stepped foot inside the borough — just days before to complete my second interview with the paper’s leadership, and right before that, to make sure I knew how to get to the Bronx in the first place from my Airbnb in Bushwick.
It all felt so overwhelming. New paper. New team. New city. I feared that maybe I was too old for so much change at once, even though I was only 40.
But what I found was a loving, amazing, beautiful community. Filled with people who care — and care hard. About each other. About others. About the world.
And no one is perfect, of course. Heck, I’m far, far, far from perfect. I spent decades in old-school newsrooms where if you weren’t tough and direct, you would be eaten alive. I am so happy and relieved it’s no longer like that, but it took far longer for me to adjust to that than it should.
I’m absolutely not the same person I was five years ago, or even two years ago — or just last year.
I’ve grown and evolved, as you have grown and evolved. As all of us have grown and evolved.
That, by the way, is what I hope we all can remember through all of this change. The world is turning into a kinder, more empathetic place. And that’s fantastic. I’m a science-fiction fan because I like feeling hope for a better future. We don’t need transporters, ray guns or fast spaceships to make us better — we just need to be better to each other.
But we also have to remember that while it’s important to explore who we once were, we must focus more on who we are now — and who we’ll become.
If we don’t allow room for people to evolve, then all the gains we’ve made to make the world a better place will be lost.
With all that said, I have one last confession to make: I’ve buried the lede. That’s the ultimate journalistic sin, and I committed it here. But it’s because it’s one of the hardest lines I’ve ever written — despite how excited I am to open this next door.
Next week, I will introduce to you the new editor of The Riverdale Press. After five fantastic years, I’m stepping away.
But not very far.
As you know, The Press is owned by a great family-run company in Garden City, Richner Communications, which owns two dozen papers — mostly on Long Island — as well as The Press, and another solid publication you’re familiar with locally, The Jewish Star. I have been offered a chance to lead news operations for the entire company — an opportunity I never thought I would have, and certainly nothing I dreamed of when sitting in that conference room five years ago.
This new role removes me from day-to-day work here in our greater Riverdale community, but I am still here. I’ll still have an office here, and The Press remains one of the papers I will oversee.
My email is the same, firstname.lastname@example.org, but I will have a new phone number: (718) 543-6065, Ext. 317. Drop me a line — especially if you haven’t in a while, or maybe even never have. I would love to hear from you.
I literally have tears in my eyes writing these words, because I have fallen deeply in love with this community.
If I had it my way, I would remain as editor of this paper for as long as my fingers can move over the keyboard. I have grown and evolved so much — from what I thought was supposed to be this rough and tough guy, to someone who can still stand his ground, but who truly puts people first.
I still have room to grow, as we all do. And I’m excited that we’ll continue to grow together.
The author is the editor of The Riverdale Press