My first full week as editor of The Riverdale Press feels like when my wife and I moved into our first home in West Hartford, Connecticut. We were the new neighbors on the block with a baby on the way.
We were two young journalists in over our heads as we unloaded what little worldly goods we had into this big Colonial on Levesque Avenue.
The thing I will always remember was how we met our two closest neighbors. My wife knocked on the door of the house next door and introduced herself. A day or so later — after one of those winter storms of the century — I helped our neighbor across the street dig out his car.
Some 29 years later, they have become dear friends to our family, having attended the traditional events such as a baby naming, bar and bat mitzvahs, and weddings. The key to building those strong relationships was regular communication and respect for each other.
I like to think my journey to Riverdale will be quite similar in that I will develop close relationships that will lead to great stories, photos, and editions of the Pulitzer-Prize winning Press. Following in the footsteps of Michael Hinman — who is now executive editor of this publication and a couple dozen others in the Long-Island-based Richner Communications chain — I believe I can lead our staff of three reporters and a photographer to continue this newspaper’s excellent reporting and writing.
We plan on continuing our role as an institution of the free press whose job it is to seek the truth in all areas of our community. We will continue to pursue stories in that quest for the truth, knowing the importance of diligent reporting ,and not being afraid to shake things up a little bit, if necessary.
We will accomplish this through the work of our hard-working staff like our transportation and education reporter Stacy Driks. Sachi McClendon, who covers police and politics. And Joseph De La Cruz, our housing and real estate reporter who comes to us from Report for America, a national program from The GroundTruth Project.
We are also grateful for our staff photo editor, Hiram Alejandro Durán.
While I may not by a New York resident now, I have roots that go back to the New York City and Long Island of the 1970s and 1980s. I was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, and was raised in College Point, Queens, before my parents moved to Brentwood on Long Island.
I know what it means to grow up in a middle-class family during lean times as school budgets continued to be slashed. (Heck, we had to walk about two miles or so to East Junior High School in the mid-1970s when went on austerity budgets.)
Living near New York City and along the Long Island Rail Road’s Ronkonkoma line has had its perks: I could easily go to New York Mets games at Shea Stadium, and to the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. I could also easily visit my grandparents in College Point, although by then, I had my own car.
I feel that once again I am in my element as I started at The Press. And that’s not just because I am near the many amenities New York City has to offer. It’s the feeling that I can contribute to keeping the newspaper the source for everything Riverdale, Spuyten Duyvil, Fieldston, Marble Hill and Kingsbridge. But I also want our readers to understand how news outside the greater Riverdale area impacts them and how what you do affects the rest of the world.
For those of you who are curious, I have a history of bringing good journalism to the communities I have worked in. There are at least two instances that come to mind.
Back in the late 1990s, Hartford, Connecticut, was attempting to rebuild its infrastructure and attract more business as its reputation as the “insurance capital of the world” was losing its luster.
The proposal even included a stadium for the NFL’s New England Patriots, a riverfront amphitheater, and a stadium for UConn football.
To help readers of the Hartford Business Journal understand what their city was experiencing, I sent reporters to Bridgeport, Connecticut, Baltimore and Cleveland to see first-hand those redevelopment efforts.
And in the early 1990s, as business editor of a Connecticut daily known as The Register Citizen, I stumbled upon a scam a local car dealership was committing. Through snail mail and phone tips from customers, we discovered the dealership was not registering the cars they sold.
In Connecticut — as well as other states — it is standard process for dealerships to take care of the DMV-related tasks for customers. Unfortunately, for many new car owners at the dealership they found out they were driving unregistered cars and receiving tickets.
We broke the story on the front page, and got the state to investigate and shut down the practice.
I hope to produce such reporting as new editor of The Press. To reach me, call (718) 543-6065, Ext. 374, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The author is editor of The Riverdale Press