Support our Sponsors
  • Crafts at Lyndhurst
  • Duck Derby - Tarrytown Rotary Club and YMCA
  • St. Johns Dobbs Ferry ER
Community News
Hastings-on-Hudson

Ideas Emerge to Close the Local News Gap in the Rivertowns

• Bookmarks: 143 • Comments: 2


March 8, 2024

By Barrett Seaman–

The January announcement of the closure of three local Westchester newspapers, including the Rivertowns Enterprise, has sparked concerns throughout the county about the disappearance of local news sources. More than a month later, those concerns continue to reverberate.

A February 1st Zoom conference organized by Qiqo, a new online site that hosts events and offers organizational and marketing tools for businesses, including news outlets, drew some 300 people and lasted almost two hours. As a result, groups in several affected communities emerged to launch discussions aimed at either reviving or replacing the now-defunct papers, all of which were owned by Deborah White, who attended but did not participate in the forum.

Support our Sponsors
  • Sunnyside Federal Savings & Loan - Irvington, NY
  • Donate to The Hudson Independent

Lucas Cioffi and his wife, Sandra Nam, founders of Qiqo, have scheduled a second Zoom forum for Wednesday, March 13th in an effort to advance some of the emerging ideas aimed at filling the gap left specifically by the closure of the Rivertowns Enterprise.

Qiqo (for Quality In/Quality Out) also held a press conference on March 7 in Hastings to galvanize support for adoption of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act (S.625B and A.2958C in the State Senate and Assembly respectively). In advance of the press conference, which was essentially a rally for both the legislation and the news organizations it is intended to help, Cioffi circulated a petition in support of the legislation and urged attendees to share it with as many New Yorkers as possible. To see the petition click on (https://forms.gle/Mu826P6SEr9opgrU7)

The bill, if passed, would offer payroll tax credits for news outlets of a certain size. That would provide an incentive to hire back reporters laid off due to the crumbling, advertising-dependent economic model used by most commercial news organizations. It would, however, be of limited value to news outlets (including The Hudson Independent) that have transitioned from profit to non-profit status and thereby have no taxable profits to offset.

Speaking in support of the bill and cheerleading for the various efforts to revive local news were State Assemblywoman MaryJane Shimsky, Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner and Hastings-on-Hudson Mayor Nicola (“Niki”) Armacost.

Shimsky acknowledged that “for many years now, most local news [outlets] have been hanging on by their fingernails. Costs have gone up. circulation has gone down. You need to pay the people who report the news. This is a real serious problem.” Given the urgency of the issue locally, Shimsky urged a rapid response, noting that to have a timely effect, the legislation should be part of Albany’s 2024-25 budget, currently under consideration.

Feiner called the loss of local press “a threat to our democracy,” adding, “We need scrutiny of local government” to prevent wasting taxpayer dollars and corruption. Local papers, he said, typically spur more citizen participation in local government. “We need competitive elections.”

Several attendees with experience in local media spoke as well. Zach Richner, who described himself as a third-generation newspaperman, oversees the Empire State Local News Coalition, encompassing 150 print and online news organizations throughout the state. “Local news is in crisis,” he said, “and I don’t think that’s hyperbole.”  A quarter of all New York counties, he said, are currently “news deserts,” meaning they have no local press coverage at all.

Adam Stone, publisher of five “Examiner” newspapers in Westchester and Putnam Counties, acknowledged that while his papers were still operating, “We are a shell of our former self.” With layoffs forced by shrinking revenues and rising costs, he said, “we are not able to fulfill our mission —There are meetings we can’t get to, school sports events we can’t cover.”

Despite the grim picture he painted, Stone, as well as others at the meeting, expressed optimism, which Stone said was based on “the developing energy we have here today.”

Some of that energy, generated specifically in the rivertowns, could be evident in the March 13 Zoom conference, where several proposals to fill the gap left by the closure of the Rivertowns Enterprise will be scrutinized.

Read or leave a comment on this story...


Support our Sponsors
  • Newington Cropsey Birds in Art
  • Piccola Trattoria - Dobbs Ferry Wine and Cheese Night
  • Andrea Martone - Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow real estate agent
  • Tranquility Spa - Scarsdale

Earth Day Is Coming—And the Rivertowns are Ready

By Jeff Wilson-- Earth Day itself is on Monday, April 22, but the environmentally committed residents of the rivertowns have...
Read More

New Superintendent of Schools Hired in Ardsley

By Rick Pezzullo--- The Ardsley Board of Education has appointed Dr. Matthew J. Block as the next superintendent of Ardsley...
Read More

Abbott House Names New CEO

The Board of Directors of Abbott House has named Ms. Justine Christakos as incoming CEO and President of Abbott House,...
Read More

New Concord Road School Principal Appointed in Ardsley

By Rick Pezzullo--- The Ardsley Board of Education has appointed Dr. Vidya Bhat as the incoming full-time probationary principal of...
Read More

Irvington High Names Class of 2024 Valedictorian, Salutatorian

By Rick Pezzullo--- Ciara Lyons and Hanna Reich are heads of the Class of 2024 at Irvington High School. Lyons...
Read More

Irvington Girl Scouts Honor Their Past at a Fundraising Luncheon

By Barrett Seaman-- The ongoing centennial celebration of the founding of the Irvington Girl Scouts wound its way on Sunday,...
Read More

Hastings-on-Hudson Resident to Bike 300+ Miles for Fundraiser

by Janine Annett-- Robert Simmonds has deep roots in Hastings. Not only is he a lifelong resident of the village,...
Read More

Writer’s Block…of Clay

WRITER'S BLOCK...OF CLAY: The pleasure, pain and Play-Doh of creating By Krista Madsen– There have been times in my writing life—memorable, magical,...
Read More

Justice Department Charges Regeneron With Pricing Fraud

By Barrett Seaman— The U.S. Department of Justice this week filed a False Claim complaint against Tarrytown-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, claiming...
Read More

Sleepy Hollow Jazz Festival April 12 Unites Several School Districts

By Rick Pezzullo--- The Public Schools of the Tarrytowns will be hosting the 2024 Sleepy Hollow Jazz Festival on Friday,...
Read More
143 recommended
2 notes
685 views
bookmark icon