Long Island Press: A Ten-Year Retrospective


Robbie Wolliver - Long Island Press 10 year retrospective

It’s like I’m back at the Press and on deadline again.

It’s been three years since I left the paper to feed my entrepreneurial fever. I knew that publisher, Jed Morey, would understand why I was leaving. After all, the Press was an entrepreneurial need I fulfilled back in 1999 when I came to him with my harebrained scheme to start an alternative newspaper. (I know this is the 10th anniversary edition, but the paper was actually born in 1999, and officially published in January 2002, under a different name, but with the same goals, and certainly the same vision as the new monthly version of the Press you’ve been hearing about.)


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Last week, my dear friend and cherished colleague, Chris Twarowski, who was recently named the Press’ new editor in chief, asked me to write a “retro” article about how I came up with the idea for the Long Island Press, the genesis of the paper and many of our biggest stories, and what my favorite moments were.

Chris suggested I detail highlights such as our industry-changing Newsday-circulation scandal series; Borzou Daraghi’s exclusive, non-embedded reports from Iraq during the war there; our groundbreaking, award-winning and news-making series on heroin, education, children’s health, toxic waste, green living, autism, and oil; our enterprise reporting on hazing, sexual harassment, the 9-11 truth movement, corrupt politicians, missing kids, underreported crimes and in-depth arts and lifestyle stories like no other publication was offering; initiating our programs like Fortune 52 and the High School Journalism Awards, “Our Children’s Health” and Best Of Long Island; creating columns such as Michael Martino’s “Dry Martino” (now, I have your attention!), Ron Beigel’s “Eater’s Digest,” Michael Nelson’s “Ravings,” Chick Dubinsky’s “Press Box” and Jed Morey’s “Off The Reservation”; and publishing other attention-grabbing columnists like Amy Fisher, Matt Taibbi, Crispin Reynolds, Chris Cooke and Tristram Fox.

Whether it was advocating in our paper for parents involved in a bitter hearing with school officials over vaccines, giving voice to victims of abuse by clergy or exposing the story of a maid being beaten by her employer—we told it all. I’ll defer to Kenny Herzog’s excellent contribution to this issue, which lists all the specific names I’d praise and thank.

I can’t really fulfill Chris’ “detailed retro” request, because with many former colleagues coming together for this issue, and probably writing about everything that I would write about, I thought instead I’d take the opportunity to deal with the future, and let you, the reader, know how important it is to support this publication. Hey, I don’t have a horse in this race. Now, as a non-Press civilian, I am interested in the paper as a vehicle for information that I need to survive on the Island, and in the constantly changing world. I have great admiration for the important type of journalism the Press is known for and how important it remains to support that type of journalism.

That’s what’s important to you: to know that Chris and Jed are devoted to bringing you the truth, for being the voice of those who aren’t always heard, for being fair and balanced—and not my memories of working with the best journalists and production and art teams that I’ve had the fortune to work with. I don’t need to praise them here in print; Many remain my good friends and they live with my daily admiration either as current Press staffers or having moved on to other interesting publications and ventures. They have also already been honored by a boatload of awards’ organizations. I am so proud of the always game-changing work we did together.

Reader, you do need to know, from that guy without the horse in the race, that I can assure you that publisher Jed Morey and editor-in-chief Chris Twarowski have you in their hearts and minds all the time. You and your family are what they think about and worry about—the best ways to inform and entertain you. You’re lucky to be in their hands, as you read the Long Island Press.

Those bylines you’ll see in this issue—I love all the people behind them. My years at the Long Island Press were the best of times, and I am so proud of the great work we did, and I’m looking forward to all the fine journalism the current team will continue to do.

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