Allow me to begin with a wild understatement: Our industry is changing rapidly. The business of news has been beset by turbulence the likes of which few could have imagined only a decade ago. Pointedly, this was precisely when we decided to dive into it.
The past 10 years have been challenging, interesting, frantic and, ultimately, extremely rewarding. But those who resist change don’t simply wither; they die. As such we have changed with the times to the extent that our resources would allow. But running a business—and it is a business—is not simply about surviving. It’s about thriving. To borrow from Shakespeare, in order to thrive, the Long Island Press must undergo a sea change.
Over the next few months we will be trickling out information as to the nature of our transformation. The purpose of this letter is to chart the course for where we are headed and make an exciting announcement about who will be leading us. As we live on an island I will maintain the maritime analogy to explain our journey, both past and present.
Launching an alternative-weekly newspaper on Long Island was a risky endeavor, as those who came before us had failed. Robbie Woliver, the founding Editor in Chief of the Press, believed that there was a path, however, for people more experienced in navigating the strange, unforgiving waters of Long Island. Not only was he correct, but he was the right person to launch the paper and lead our journey.
Robbie is a talented writer and editor with an entrepreneurial spirit. He saw the paper in all of its functions and participated in every one. Under his watchful eye, we navigated the rocks and the buoys by changing course several times until we found our rhythm and direction. And then he left us in search of new adventures. But he left behind a talented crew, ready and eager to take the wheel.
The “Michaels”—Michael Martino and Michael Patrick Nelson—would see us through the transition, which marked the moment that the Press began to migrate aggressively into the digital realm. Michael (of the Martino persuasion) ultimately moved on as well, into a role with Nassau County government. He is sorely missed.
Michael Nelson took charge of the ship and it was the most natural transition imaginable. Michael Nelson was one of the paper’s “originals” and possessed a deep abiding passion for the written word. To put it bluntly, Michael is the most brilliant writer I have ever worked with, particularly when writing about music. But Michael shunned the spotlight, preferring to mentor those around him and push us all to travel further from shore, go deeper.
This summer the editors at Stereogum.com, one of the most influential music websites on the planet, approached Michael to join their team. Knowing him as we do, our only option was to nod quietly in agreement when he told us he didn’t think he could pass it up. We knew. As painful as it was, we all knew it was the right move for him.
I have been incredibly fortunate over the past decade to have worked closely with all of the individuals named above, as well as the talented team of writers they collaborated with and inspired. Now, the Press is faced once again with the realization that if we do nothing—if we do not change course and explore new territories—we run the risk of capsizing.
No, the only answer for us is to move forward and reach beyond what we thought was possible. To travel further toward the horizon until we can no longer see the lights from shore.
Our editorial team is comprised of seasoned veterans such as Christopher Twarowski, Jaclyn Gallucci, Timothy Bolger and Spencer Rumsey, as well as talented young writers such as Rashed Mian, Licia Avelar and Lindsay Christ. They are the epitome of professionalism and the engine behind this publication. Together they have influenced policy and public opinion on Long Island in a fair and objective fashion. It’s an outstanding lineup and they’re anxious to set sail.
Sailing far from home into uncharted waters requires a captain who is both fearless and seasoned. This person must also have absolute command and knowledge of our vessel; to understand both its strengths and its weaknesses. (After all, we’re likely to take on water during the journey… Best to know where the holes are before we set sail.)
The captain we need must therefore come from within. It’s the only way.
Christopher Twarowski holds an M.A. and M.S. from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. As a reporter he is intrepid and tenacious, and as an editor he is tremendously supportive. And although he is personally the most decorated writer on our team (Chris has earned more than 80 editorial awards and accolades), he is universally recognized as the ultimate team player. Most of all, he is beloved. For these, and many more reasons, he is the perfect person to captain our ship and lead us into the future.
As we prepare ourselves for another decade of outstanding journalism, please join us in welcoming Christopher Twarowski as the new Editor in Chief of the Long Island Press. In our September 6th edition, you’ll hear directly from him, as Chris’ words will occupy this spot.
None of us know what lies ahead in the newspaper industry, but we at the Press know our destiny is “out there” somewhere in deeper waters.