For the past decade we have strived to keep you informed about the most important issues and happenings affecting the nearly 3 million of us who call this Island home. For the past decade we’ve kept you entertained, with comprehensive arts and culture features, music reviews, profiles and an event listings section unrivaled in its scope and breadth. For the past decade we’ve educated you through in-depth reporting, leave-no-stone-unturned news coverage and eye-opening, revelatory investigative pieces on everything from politics and the environment to business and government.
For the past decade, we’ve told your collective story, Long Island, and have been blessed to do so.
As you might know, the Press began as a bi-weekly newspaper called The New Island Ear in 2002, when The Morey Organization (TMO), then owners of pioneering alternative rock station 92.7 WDRE/WLIR-FM, purchased the bi-weekly music publication, the Island Ear.
Taking our name from the daily Long Island Press, which published for 156 years before shutting its doors in 1977, we re-launched as an alternative newsweekly in January 2003 under the direction of Publisher Jed Morey and the guidance of Editor-in-Chief Robbie Woliver and took the Island by storm.
We ran a freight train through local news, politics, government, you name it. Fueled by an insatiable thirst for the truth and having a complete and total blast along the way, we put our own stamp on what the Island and its residents deserved to know; no longer were they held captive by the singular monopolistic take presented by our lone daily Newsday and News12.
We focused a light on many underreported topics and analyzed many already-reported subjects through a new, unique and independent set of lenses, refusing to take things at face value and always aggressively, yet patiently, pursuing the truth behind every person, institution and issue.
We brought our own style of journalism to Long Island, one that bled heart.
We’ve done a lot of damage, exposed a lot of misdeeds and held a great many public and private officials accountable for their action—or inactions. We’ve influenced the way this island thinks about some things and unquestionably opened people’s eyes about others. We’ve made an impact on issues of public policy and matters of public concern, from our neglected sewage treatment plants and how to address the Island’s ongoing heroin epidemic to corruption within our police departments and among our elected officials. We’ve sparked dialogue among taxpayers and lawmakers alike, doing our best to keep the latter honest.
Since 2003 we’ve been disrupting the status quo, shaking things up, raising hell, and having a whole lot of fun in the process. We have been a positive force for change on this Island and the region—and both are better off because of it.
That freight train continues to roll on, and next week will take the shape of a larger, more-encompassing monthly magazine. A different format, perhaps, but still furiously adhering to the same principles, spirit and commitment to quality upon which we have built and solidified our reputation over the past 10 years. I promise you that.
I joined the Press in 2002 as an editorial assistant for the about-to-be-launched New Island Ear. I was among its first hires and despite a roughly three-year hiatus to Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and The Washington Post, I stand as the last one remaining from the original edit crew: Woliver, Bill Jensen, Michael Patrick Nelson and Lauren E. Hill. Edith Updike, Kenny Herzog, Brendan Manley, Tim Bolger and an army of others joined the ranks shortly afterwards and helped shape who I am today as a person and a journalist.
Armed with curiosity, imagination and the omnipresent spirit of Johnny Cash, I was set loose; learning primarily by doing and writing for every section of the paper in the process—though more and more drawn to those stories that required digging. Countless are the tales from the battlefield.
I’ll never forget the time Jon Sasala and I, acting on a tip, ended up in protected wetlands behind a Suffolk County trailer park infested with feral cats to discover a literal mountain of undelivered Newsday products that’d been dumped. Or staking out recycling drops, utilizing a homemade anti-fraud tool my father fashioned for me out of a broomstick, and going undercover inside a junkyard to catch those in the act—just a few scenes from what became a nearly 20-part investigative series into the daily paper’s gross circulation fraud, possibly the largest in newspaper publishing history.
I’ll never forget the time a sewage worker threatened to cut me up into little pieces and stuff my dismembered body down the sewage pipes of the deepest bowels of Cedar Creek sewage treatment plant (this conversation taking place while in the plant). The scar I later received as my head was ripped open by a rusty sewage pipe thanks to the negligence of Nassau County officials and their disregard for state and federal health and safety laws is another permanent reminder. Or the time a billionaire called to try and get me fired. Or when a top police official reamed me out in an attempt to kill a massive exposé.
I could write volumes—the near-daily walks to the Gorm with Nelson and Jensen, the countless hours honing pieces with Woliver and Updike, the eternal debate about lunch, the endless days, nights and weekends hunting down stories with Bolger, Spencer Rumsey, Jaclyn Gallucci, Rashed Mian and so many others—as could all the people behind the bylines at the Press.
We could have gone many different routes with this very special issue. For our fifth year anniversary, for example, we reprinted 6,000 words of past ledes. Something so monumental and celebratory as 10 years of entertaining, 10 years of informing, 10 years of truth-telling, 10 years of shining a light on some pretty dark places, and, I’d argue, 10 years of inspiring (especially in this ever-changing mediascape)—warranted something more.
We felt it only fitting, therefore, to have many of those who made this newspaper what it was and what it now is share the Press’ history in their own words and voices.
Throughout these pages you will hear from many people who worked so hard to bring you years of Long Island stories, people who strove for perfection down to the last comma or ellipsis, people who cared enough to raise their hand and say, “No, everything is not okay!” who spoke out of turn, stood up and tried to do something about it, each in their own special way.
People who have feasted on the Press’ legendary lunches.
For some of you this issue will be a re-introduction to some writers, editors and former interns from years past, a reminder of all the stories we’ve told along our beautifully impossible journey. For others it’ll be a warm first encounter. (Sadly, former Press columnist, “Long Island Lolita” Amy Fisher did not respond to our request for a contribution.)
Consider this issue not merely a grand celebration (which it is), but a love note and a sincere thank you. Thanks for welcoming us into your thoughts, whether or not you agreed with what we told you. Thanks for listening.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for caring.
Editor in Chief
Top Image: Original Crew – Editor-in-Chief Robbie Woliver, Staff Writer Lauren E. Hill, Managing Editor Bill Jensen, Arts and Listings Editor Michael Nelson and Editorial Assistant Christopher Twarowski jazz it up at the press’ old Garden City headquarters.