I’ve been writing for The Hudson Reporter for a few years, but not in the office. I do my part over email and telephone by pitching stories and doing interviews with notable locals for Bayonne: Life on the Peninsula, Hoboken 07030, and Jersey City Magazine. I work closely with Editor in Chief Kate Rounds, who polishes articles, but really, I didn’t know how the staff builds three magazines and eight weekly newspapers from concept to the final copies that hit my doorstep and yours.
The new Bayonne office is only about 10 miles from the Hoboken bank building that was its headquarters for almost 25 years. Yet this location seems a world away from bustling Washington Street. It’s exciting that The Hudson Reporter is among the businesses and developers capitalizing on Bayonne’s potential. The two-story Broadway building, where the company moved in May, stands out with a floor-to-ceiling front window that shows off a wood spiral staircase.
Past the lobby is the sales department. I’m greeted by Advertising Manager Tish Kraszyk. She introduces me to her team of account executives that includes her husband, Ron Kraszyk, Toni Anne Calderone, Jason Lay, Jay Slansky, and John Ward. This department sells ads that fund the publications. Once a week they have a sales meeting.
“Since we’re all in different directions geographically, this is our time that we’re all together,” Tish Kraszyk says, referring to the fact that they each have a sales territory where they connect with local businesses. “We have a good working relationship,” she says. “In a lot of sales organizations, no matter what you’re selling out in the marketplace, there can be friction among sales staff. It’s never been like that here. To have that kind of relationship adds to the strength of our team.”
“It’s just mutual respect for your coworkers, and our personalities gel,” adds Calderone as her coworkers nod in agreement. “On a typical morning you’re joking around here, and then it’s refreshing to go out to your territories with a smile on your face.”
Ron Kraszyk says, “The leadership is a big factor, like Dave. Are you listening to this, Dave?” Co-publisher David Unger stands within earshot making photocopies. Kraszyk’s coworkers laugh and call him a brown nose. But Kraszyk is sincere. “Dave is always available,” he says. “It’s a good environment. His door is open.”
Unger’s office is just beyond the sales department. He shares the role of publisher with Lucha Malato. The two purchased the company in 1999.
“We’ve always tried to keep the environment fun,” Unger says. “Newspapers are very busy places with lots of stress.”
Adds Malato, “You’re working with deadlines. It isn’t like we can just say, ‘oh, we don’t feel well, we’ll do it tomorrow.’” But the vibe is upbeat.
“That’s our philosophy, to keep it friendly, welcoming, and an enjoyable place to work,” Unger says. “It must be, because we have many people who have been with us for a very long time,” adds Malato. “It’s a fun place to work.”
An efficient office staff keeps things running smoothly. Bayonne native and Bookkeeper Sharon Metro has been on the job 17 years. She shares an office with Veronica Aldaz who, for six years, has been supporting the sales department. Classified Manager Ann Reilly has been processing those all-important classifieds for 22 years. She’s helped by Classified Representative Barbra Johnson, who’s been at the Hudson Reporter for two years. “I like getting to know local people,” she says, “hearing what they’re thinking and feeling and learning about the neighborhood.”
If it weren’t for the next two gentlemen, you’d never see the publications. Circulation Manager Roberto Lopez, on the job for 21 years, says he likes the fact that he distributes “Local news. It’s a forum for news that the bigger outlets don’t cover.”
He works with Luis Vasquez who’s been with the Hudson Reporter for 25 years. “I’m very proud to be working with this company,” he says. “I also like making a connection to the businesses I visit. It feels like a friendship.”
These loyal employees have been with the Reporter for a grand total of almost 100 years.
The upcoming issue of Hoboken 07030 is laid out page by page on a large conference table on the second floor. Publications are displayed this way so that the art and editorial departments can perfect the contents before the final draft reaches readers.
“Sometimes a story can look right on the computer screen, and then when you see it in print, you notice an error that you didn’t notice before,” says Caren Matzner, editor in chief of the newspapers.
The Hudson Reporter’s newspapers cover Bayonne, Guttenberg, Hoboken, Jersey City, North Bergen, Secaucus, Union City, Weehawken, and West New York. “Sometimes news breaks, like the train crash in Hoboken,” Matzner says. “Marilyn Baer is our reporter, and she was in Hoboken all day jockeying among the local TV stations to try to get a spot at the press conference. I was there too, and I posted some breaking news on the website.”
Unger adds, “We’re in the process of redoing our web presence, and hopefully in the next several months you will see a new website.”
Stories get the onceover from editors Matzner, Rounds, and Managing Editor Gene Ritchings. Staff writers Marilyn Baer, Samantha Myers, Rory Pasquariello, and Al Sullivan cover the towns in their beats. Sullivan writes a weekly political column titled “Between the Lines.”
“Reporters who have learned the craft of journalism from us have gone on to work full-time at the New York Times and the Associated Press and have written best-selling nonfiction books and novels,” Matzner says.
A Picture’s Worth…
The art department lays out the publications, integrating ads and editorial. “Beautiful images and elegant, simple layouts can really make a piece come to life,” Rounds says. Terri Saulino Bish, Alyssa Bredin, Lisa M. Cuthbert, Ines Rodriguez, and Pasquale Spina make up the graphics staff.
“We take all the pieces and put them together into the finished product,” Bredin says. “It’s like a puzzle.”
“Combining the art of retouching and the science of color-correcting makes a great photo reproduce like a great photo,” adds Bish, demonstrating how the layout and artwork can enhance a story.
“The publishing industry is not what it was 20 years ago,” says Cuthbert. “You can’t just think outside the box, you have to rebuild the box itself, and it’s our job to do that.”
Spina adds. “But I think there are still people who want to feel that paper in their hands in the morning.”
But Rounds, who is also editor of the Bayonne Community News, warns, “Unlike with online publications, if you make a mistake in print, it will be there forever, in the fossil footprint. We try not to make mistakes!”
A transitioning newspaper industry was partly responsible for the move to Bayonne.
“The Hoboken building was just way too big for us,” Malato says. “We had so much wasted space.” The company found a home in a city that was also transitioning.
“This is a town that has a lot of potential, whereas in Hoboken I think that potential has been more than realized,” says Ritchings.
“Bayonne is also a great news town to work in,” Rounds adds. “Buildings are going up, and there’s opposition to those developments; new, younger people are moving in, and there’s a burgeoning arts scene. It’s fun to be in a town and watch it change. But the old charm is still there, lifelong residents, one-family homes, mom-and-pop stores, and a deep community spirit.”
Sullivan, whose beat was Bayonne for about 10 years, is happy to be back. “I missed its traditions, and I missed Broadway, so coming back was very familiar,” he says. “Now we’re back, and it’s like home again.”
The Nature of the Beast
The business of publishing has its own internal rhythms.
“It’s not linear work,” Rounds says. “It’s circular. It never ends. You keep all the balls in the air, working on each publication in order, and then start again.”
For writers, artists, and editors, creative thinking is where it all begins.
“We have edit meetings, where we kick around ideas,” Rounds says. “You can’t make a good publication without a strong foundation of ideas that spark interest and engage readers. In the beginning, before those ideas coalesce, it’s a little scary. But then the stories are written, the photos are shot, the layouts are designed, and the product begins to emerge. ‘Product’ is an interesting word. We’re not making shoes, but we are making something tangible. The moment when you turn that first page can be exciting. But then, right away, it’s on to the next project.”—BLP