Trusted companion, threatened


Lou Gehrig didn’t like to call in sick.

The New York Yankees legend didn’t miss a single game between June 1, 1925 and May 2, 1939. A stretch of 2,130 consecutive games, and a streak that would take nearly 60 years to topple.

Not far from the Fieldston home where Gehrig spent his final years, another streak was starting. This wasn’t an amazing athlete never missing a game. Instead, it was (we hope) an amazing newspaper never missing a week.

From its first issue in 1950 to the very copy you have in your hands now, The Riverdale Press has published for 3,647 consecutive weeks.

Think about that for a moment. A lot has happened in those 70 years, many of which  — like, say, a firebombing on the eve of a production deadline in 1989, or the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, or even the strike of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 —  could’ve given us more than an excuse to miss a week.

But we didn’t. We pushed through. And even today, when technology wants to wipe newspapers from the face of the Earth, we’ve been your trusted companion, visiting you every single week, making sure that everything you needed to know about your community, you knew.

Yet, who knew the biggest threat to ensuring you got the news you needed was not from technology. It was not from a pull away from analog delivery.

It is a virus. The coronavirus. SARS-CoV-2, which can cause COVID-19. Even the spellcheck can’t recognize those terms as we write it into this space.

Whether you become directly infected by the virus, chances are you’ve become directly affected. Many businesses have temporarily shut their doors, most with the hope they will reopen again once this has passed. That has caused a lot of missed paychecks, or none at all, as unemployment — even the more permanent type — is expected to soar.

But it could affect your newspaper as well. In fact, if you hold this week’s paper and feel how thin it is, it already has. It is our wonderful family of advertisers that ensure your Riverdale Press gets to you each week. It pays our reporting and advertising staffs. It pays for the paper. It pays for the ink. It pays to deliver it to your door, or to a newsstand near you.

Without that support, there is no newspaper.

Even before this virus, there were a lot of questions about how newspapers could sustain themselves long-term. Believing national results can translate to the local level, some important advertisers from the past moved from print to digital. Yet more readers — we’re talking you and your neighbors here — get their local news from a community newspaper than they do anywhere else online.

Who is covering the greater Riverdale/Kingsbridge community at the depth we are? No one online. No one on television. Not even anyone else in print.

Who first told you about a proposed pedestrian bridge in Van Cortlandt Park spanning across the Major Deegan? And who later was the first to warn it could cost the park more than 160 trees?

Who heard the pleas to restore 1 train subway service to normal, and shared that plight?

Who shared the journey of Riverdale-based volunteers to the U.S.-Mexican border to help those seeking asylum?

And who was one of the first to share details about the coronavirus in this community?

Look around your neighborhood, whether it’s Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Spuyten Duyvil, Fieldston or Marble Hill. No neighborhood is perfect, but the more hardworking, passionate and community-loving people who live there like you, the more amazing your community is. And what better way to share the good — and to point out the bad, in an effort to make it good — than a community newspaper.

We could spend pages and pages talking about the difference we make. Sometimes with nothing more than picking up a phone (it’s still surprising how much getting a phone call from a reporter will prompt action), but as you can see, we just don’t have that space.

We won’t lie. For us to make it through to the other side of this crisis, we’re going to need your help. We value your readership. We are so happy you frequent our advertisers. But now we have to ask for a little more.

Putting out a newspaper costs money, not just for the staff that puts it together each week, but the paper it’s printed on, the journey it makes to your doorstep.

If you want to help financially support your local newspaper during these tough times, we’ve made it easy. All you have to do is visit RiverdalePress.com/donate. From there you can make a one-time donation using an online form, or make it an automatic monthly payment.

Those 3,647 issues? That’s not our streak. That’s yours. And if we want to make it to 3,648, or 3,649, or beyond, we’re going to need your help.

Have an opinion? Share your thoughts as a letter to the editor. Make your submission to letters@riverdalepress.com. Please include your full name, phone number (for verification purposes only), and home address (which will not be published).
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