Newspaper war in Brooklyn

Who says newspapers are dead?

An old-fashioned newspaper war is expected to get underway any day now in Brooklyn, NY. I’d be remiss in not reporting on it, since I know more than a little about the turf and about the players, having published The Brooklyn Paper (one of the dogs in this fight) for 30 years before selling it to a division of NewsCorp.; some of my crew — including Vince DiMiceli and Gersh Kuntzman — are still at The Paper; my wife Celia is the publisher.

Between 2006 and 2009, Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp, which publishes the daily NY Post in Manhattan, acquired a significant number of “outer borough” weeklies.

In Brooklyn, NewsCorp grabbed pretty much everything, leaving only the Home-Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator group and standalones in Brooklyn Heights, Canarsie and Greenpoint.

In the Bronx, NewsCorp took the gritty Bronx Times tabloids (no relation to The Bronx Times online) and left the prestigious Riverdale Press broadsheet for acquisition by Long Island’s Richner brothers (who recently picked up a chain of Philadelphia area weeklies from the ailing Philadelphia Inquirer).

In Queens, NewsCorp scooped up the quality group — Steve Blank’s Times-Ledger — at the same time that it bought the biggest chain in Brooklyn, Cliff Luster’s Courier-Life. But it also left four consequential newspaper groups on the table — Queens Ledger, Queens Courier, Queens Chronicle and Queens Tribune — as well as some standalones like the Wave of Rockaway and Times NewsWeekly of Ridgewood.

Yesterday, the Queens Courier, co-published by the feisty Victoria Schneps and her able son Josh, announced that it bought The Home-Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator. These are legacy titles — the Spector goes back 82 years — that have seen better days (they don’t have a Website of any sort) but are still breathing. The Queens Courier newspapers and Website are very much alive.

The Schneps selected Ken Brown as their Brooklyn editor, and this may add an accelerant to the war’s flames. Ken was the editor at Courier-Life before and after the NewsCorp acquisition; he had worked there for 28 years when he was deposed last year and replaced by Vince and Gersh. Grudge match anyone?

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8 responses to “Newspaper war in Brooklyn

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Newspaper war in Brooklyn | Coney Media -- Topsy.com

  2. Raanan Geberer

    Why wasn’t the Brooklyn Eagle/Bay Ridge Eagle/Heights Press mentioned?

  3. The Eagle is among the “standalones in Brooklyn Heights, Canarsie and Greenpoint” that I referenced — the others are the Canarsie Courier and Greenpoint Gazette. The Eagle has a Bay Ridge edition and other titles but is less a real “chain” as it is a floating masthead shell game. Its Bay Ridge edition was a disruptor for a while but was ultimately unsuccessful in displacing the area’s established publications. The Eagle’s editorial staff (which included Raanan Geberer) worked hard and gave the operation a veneer of respectability and heft.

    The Home-Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator are based in Bay Ridge and are essentially newspapers for Bay Ridge and adjacent neighborhoods — maybe up to one-quarter of Brooklyn; they are desirable markets and Murdoch’s community newspapers compete aggressively there. After solidifying their Bay Ridge base, I’d expect the Queens Courier’s owners to expand to cover more of the borough, widening the front.

  4. Suzanne Bressler

    The newspaper “war” is a drama worth following – so much life’s work for so many goes into the building of local news publications, and it’s interesting to see how those foundations fare under new – particularly larger – management entities. I value local and community coverage dearly – so much goes on that can be missed or mischaracterized if not reported by those who are deeply invested in “hometowns”. Thank you for finding time and space to cover what’s happening, particularly as I am not in a geopgraphic position to read the newer editions carefully and regularly.

  5. The Home Reporter sale was brokered by Kamen & Company Group Services of Baldwin, NY.

  6. Ed did indeed successfully introduce free-distribution to Bay Ridge and other ‘parts’. As a big admirer of this ‘break through’–and a decades-long columnist for the Home Reporter and the past 11 years at the B rooklyn Daily Eagle– I was here (in Bay Ridge) to greet them. Earlier, in fact I served as Executive Editor of the Home Reporter when it waged a successful ‘newspaper war’ against the Spectator. When I left the HRSN it was the largest ABC neighborhood weekly in the city.
    We (the Home Reporter) won and I have maintained a Focus on local events there to this day. Over the years I have appreciated the competitive spirit and professionalism of the Weintrobs and their heir apparent(ly) Gersh Kuntzman, whose creative schtick has earned him the meaningful moniker, “The Sthtickler!” Chuck Otey in Bay ridge

  7. I am curious why the Community News Group continues to distribute two distinct papers, the Courier and the Brooklyn Paper, next to each other in my neighborhood (South Brooklyn), when they are essentially the same paper editorially. Why can’t they combine them? And if they can’t for business reasons, has it ever happened before that the same editorial product was part of two distinct newspapers, distributed side by side?

  8. Demographics. Different readers, different markets–age, location , politics, and especially the “black sneaker” crowd in Dumbo & Billyburg. Nice folk individually, but collectively they see themselves as the “Second Coming” It’s time a noted columnist challenged their conceits..with warm wit and humor and occasionally a penetrating barb .

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