By Brendan Browne
This week marks the introduction of the Howard Beach Times, the 14th community newspaper in the TimesLedger Newspapers family. The paper, with an initial paid circulation of 1,200, will cover the news in Howard Beach, Ozone Park, and South Ozone Park.
The weekly newspaper chain has a history dating back to around 1918 when The Little Neck Ledger first hit newsstands. In 1935 The Bayside Times made its debut and, like the Little Neck paper, was run by several owners until the current publisher, Steve Blank, bought both papers in 1989 and started Queens Publishing Corp.
Blank recognized the need for more community news publications in Queens and has added 12 newspapers to the chain, increasing total paid circulation to about 43,000.
“What we provide is a unique service to a distinct market at a level and quality in the community that no one else is providing,” said Blank. “We have a distinct niche in this marketplace.”
Queens, home to 2.2 million people, is larger than most major U.S. cities but does not receive the news coverage it deserves because other parts of New York demand so much attention, he said. The TimesLedger Newspapers help fill that void by covering Queens’ community news more closely than the city’s major dailies, giving readers in-depth reports on local events.
Now residents of the Howard Beach and Ozone Park area can follow news about their schools, community board, police, businesses, and other issues that affect their neighborhoods in the new paper. Readers can also access news from the TimesLedger Web site, www.timesledger.com, which opened in 1999.
The chain has won more than 100 prizes for journalistic excellence at the state and national level over the past three years.
Blank, a New Jersey native who worked for 10 years as a journalist, said he hopes to open two more papers over the next year or so. One would target the Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, and Corona area and the other paper would be devoted to Woodside and Sunnyside, which now receives coverage in the Astoria Times.
The 14 papers in the chain are the Astoria Times, Bayside Times, Flushing Times, Forest Hills Ledger, Fresh Meadows Times, Glen Oaks Ledger, Howard Beach Times, Jamaica Times, Laurelton Times, Little Neck Ledger, Queens Village Times, Richmond Hill Times, Ridgewood Ledger and Whitestone Times.
Reach reporter Brendan Browne by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.