Sunday, February 15, 2009

The demise of the Sunset News paper?


I don't know how many people in the neighborhood noticed, but the free Sunset News newspaper which for many years was a source of local news and coverage seems to have disappeared. Or at least the title seems to have been incorporated into a strictly advertising rag by the same publisher tilted the Bay Ridge Home Reporter and Sunset News. The new free format and manifestation has no reporting of any kind whatsoever. There is of course, a paid paper The Home Reporter that covers most of southern Brooklyn, but not Sunset Park exclusively. In it's heyday the Sunset News with the small staff of reporters provided locals with pertinent news about local politicians and issues vital to the community. The weekly publication also afforded local businesses a venue for advertising to their local community. It had a print run of 30,000 copies, though it's hard to guess how many were actually read. I suppose the economics of publishing a print newspaper in this age of the Internet was no longer feasible. I assume there was also an issue as to whether the advertising was effective considering the expense. If my memory serves me a one page ad for a one week run was well over $300. There are much cheaper and more effective alternatives these days than that. Falling advertising revenues and rising costs of publishing may have had a hand in it's imminent demise. Competition also may have played a role as there are other free publications covering news like the Brooklyn Courier. The problem is of course, that they do not cover the nabe exclusively as the Sunset News did and in addition have poor circulation in this area.

We are sorry to see the paper dissappear, I assume that the reporting staff has been laid off and is unlikely to be replaced. I would hope that the creation of this vacuum will be filled by some alternative and we will once again have news coverage of local events. In the meantime it appears that we bloggers in the area will have to act as citizen reporters and hold our local politicians feet to the fire by making sure that our neighbors are well informed of activities pertaining to our local area.

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Escape from Sunset Park said...

I'm not 100% certain, but i believe the home reporter originally covered 39th to 100th street. It once had an office, maybe its main office on 48th & 4th.

Eventually it recognized the two distinct neighborhoods and was called the Home Reporter and Sunset News. A few years ago, the Sunset Park BID negotiated an agreement to work with the Home Reporter to provide a free 30,000 copy, delivered to homes between 8th & 3rd Ave edition for Sunset Park. Additional copies would be available at major businesses and news boxes.

This was a great deal for the community. But the Home Reporter did not hire additional staff. They relied on news contributions from the public & the BID.

About a year ago, I noticed that the deliveries to homes had quietly stopped. Also, the number of newsboxes loaded with sunset news papers had almost totally disappeared.

A meeting was called with the home reporter and the BID to discuss this. I did an analysis to assist the discussion. I found that the Sunset News had virtually no local businesses advertising and that most of the ads were from outside of Sunset Park encouraging local residents to shop elsewhere.

Obviously, the BID could not support this since the BID's prime goal is to support local business.

Talks turned from friendly to harsh to downright angry as it was revealed that the Sunset News had no staff - only a shared reporter whose primary emphasis was bay ridge. the final straw was when the Home Reporter advertising rep stated clearly that she "was the face of Sunset Park" and that she was responsible for the success of 5th Avenue's street festival.

With that, the Sunset edition died. but it was really dead for over a year already.

No staff was laid off.

But in this age of the internet, a print newspaper's value is greatly diminished unless it serves either a very large broad constituency or a very targeted small constituency. the sunset news did neither.

sunset park may be too diverse for a print newspaper to succeed. we would need one in several languages and targeted at the interests of too many different economic and social groups.

but thank the heavens for blogs like yours.

Lubie said...

I am a college professor at Citytech, Jay Street, and am writing a college reader on civics.
Sunset Park published an article back in 2003 "Sunset Park Garden Club in Bloom." This article shows community work at its best. However, I cannot reach anyone at Sunset Park nespaper - now I know why. It's no loger there.
I need a permission to use an article but don't know how to find the author.

Maybe, someone out there can help me locate some people from the paper who can help.