Rockland County Times: Keeping it local while the Journal News keeps it loco

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News 12 and Journal News further cut news departments, leaving local indie media in strong position 

BY KATHY KAHN

Former Journal News managing editor Bill Madden (center), now director of external affairs of SUEZ, joined by Kyla Basso, vice president of sales and marketing of Edgewood Country Club and Suzanne Copeland, chief marketing director of Sterling National Bank at RBA Professional Marketing Council Meeting held in mid-October.
Former Journal News managing editor Bill Madden (center), now director of external affairs of SUEZ, joined by Kyla Basso, vice president of sales and marketing of Edgewood Country Club and Suzanne Copeland, chief marketing director of Sterling National Bank at RBA Professional Marketing Council Meeting held in mid-October.

The Rockland County Times, purchased by Stony Point native Dylan Skriloff in 2014, is the last county-wide print paper keeping Rockland residents in the loop about local news and events as Gannett and Cablevision shrink their staff and local coverage to attract a national audience.

SUEZ’s director of external affairs and former Journal News editor Bill Madden told the RBA’s Professional Marketing Council on October 17, “Print newspapers such as the Rockland County Times and hyper-local mini-papers are going to be the only source of print news for Rockland readers.” (The Rockland County Times also delivers web-based content: www.rocklandtimes.com)

Madden’s remark was in relation to Gannett’s purchase of the Bergen NJ Record  and The Passaic NJ News in July 2016, along with several components of the North Jersey Media Group, bringing Gannett’s reach into the metro area marketplace to over 100 newspapers, both dailies and weeklies.

The largest publisher in the US, Gannett also has a nasty habit of continually shrinking its staff. Thirty eight-year veteran journalist Phil Reisman is among those recently axed by the company. Lohud.com reported Reisman will not be replaced, considering his termination a “cost saving” measure.

Don’t ask those who worked with Reisman or who have read his articles to see any savings when it comes to good local journalism. As recently as 18 months ago, Lohud insiders tell the Rockland County Times that Reisman’s column was considered “untouchable” when staff reductions were discussed by corporate manager.

For TV viewers, the local news picture isn’t looking too bright, either.

Cablevision subscribers will soon be saying goodbye to “As local as local news gets”– News 12/Westchester and Hudson Valley–as its new owner, Netherlands’ based Altice USA, transitions the current newsroom in Yonkers to Woodbury, Long Island. The newsroom’s move is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2017.

Altice purchased News 12 in 2015 for $17.7 billion. The company has already put anchorwoman Janine Rose on notice, as well as NY Emmy winner Suzanne Colucci. No doubt there will be more to follow, despite Cablevision’s pledge to continue to bring local news to Westchester and the Hudson Valley.  Rumors of a remote “newsroom” based in the mid-Hudson to conduct interviews with local politicians may be just that—rumors.

These purchases are aimed at attracting national advertisers, but what of the small businesses that rely on “local” news outlets to get the word out about their companies?

Madden was one of three panelists at the Rockland Business Association’s Professional Marketing Council meeting held at the Pearl River Hilton on October 17 when he addressed the issue of local companies seeking to market their business in a world where  mainstream mega-media outlets are putting “local” last on the list.

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