Every week I look through the bag of ads thrown onto my stoop, looking for the the Hoboken Reporter, and every week I am disappointed. So is my neighbor, looking through her bag of ads. “Don’t they publish the paper anymore?” she asks. “I don’t know,” I reply. “For a while, when it wasn’t in with these ads, I could find it in a few places here and there in town. Now I don’t see those anymore.” “Too bad,” she said. “I looked forward to it.”
My neighbor’s not the only one wondering what happened to the Reporter. I’ve talked to other people who wonder the same thing. Yes, it’s available online, but not nearly as many people see it as did those on whose stoops it was thrown every weekend before it was sold, a year or two ago, to the new owners.
Then, it was full of ads. How can one expect a business or individual to pay for an ad that nobody sees? Those many of us who liked a print paper to read, are puzzled. Is the Reporter committing a slow suicide?
When Joe Barry started up the Reporter papers (Hoboken, Jersey City, et al) in the early 1980s, he attributed the success of this new, and risky, enterprise, to the Letters page. He wrote, “My chain of local weekly newspapers were made in the minds of the local reading populus by the letters page.” Made, because that page was open and freewheeling, funny and outrageous, all opinions welcome, really a beacon of Free Speech.
As Mark Bruzonsky, producer of Mid-East Realities TV, said in praise, “These (letters) are not only provocatively interesting and oftentimes right on the mark, they are funny and irreverent as well. And they are all the more interesting and unique because there are very few publications in the U.S. that would dare to continually publish views of this kind, that go so against the grain of what is usually considered acceptable in this country.” True, and we have Mr. Barry to thank for this. He deserves lasting credit.
T. Weed was a participant in these exchanges; and, believing that (as a democratic forum) they were too valuable to be lost, he collected and published a decade of them with the title “Enough Rope” (give ’em enough rope and they’ll hang themselves), and the book keeps selling from the outdoor table at Symposia books ($ donated to the store). Many of the participants of 30 years ago did hang themselves, or they died or moved away, but…
In those days, full of local news and ads, the paper was thrown on the stoop every weekend. It was picked up and read eagerly in all the towns in the West Bank of the Hudson River. Wouldn’t it be nice if the new owners, instead of letting the Reporters dwindle down to nothing, would start something similar? There must be a new generation of Hobokenites ready to express their prejudices and opinions, to the delight or disgust or approval or…whatever…of many of us.