The phrase new beginnings seems appropriate as we approach the relaunch of the historic Long Island Press, in recent years a website but once a daily newspaper published for 156 years and once based in Jamaica, Queens.
It seems like the history of the paper has come full circle as we bring back the printed version under our ownership after having gone from a weekly to a bi-weekly to a monthly to a digital and now again a printed edition. I’m so proud to carry on such a treasured brand.
It began its “life” as the Long Island Farmer, a weekly newspaper. Ironically, in the 1880s, a farmer and printer who had been in charge of the Brooklyn Eagle’s Long Island department took over ownership. The publisher’s office was on 161st Street in Jamaica. John Kennehan was editor when Queens was partitioned and the western part became a part of New York City and the eastern part became present day Nassau County. After his death, the paper had different owners but in 1920 a lawyer from Jamaica Benjamin Marvin became the sole owner of what was renamed the Long Island Press.
In 1932, the paper was acquired by Samuel Newhouse who also owned the Staten Island Advance. He expanded the paper’s coverage from Queens and Nassau to Suffolk County. The newspaper flourished as the areas developed and circulation grew from 30,000 to 445,000 uniquely covering local news.
Sadly, through the economic downturn of the 1970s, the paper lost advertising and circulation declined. Adding to its death was an extended strike by printing pressmen and the owners ceased publishing March 25, 1977. Sadly its building stayed vacant until 2005 when it was torn down and a Home Depot built on the site.
For decades, the Long Island Press was lost to the community until Jed Morey of Morey Publishing brought the name back in 2003 and created a weekly newspaper known for its investigative articles and coverage of the Island.
It became a monthly publication and then a digital platform, LongIslandPress.com. My son Josh and I acquired the company this past May and planned to put it back to print. With the help of a new team — John Kominicki, the former publisher of the Long Island Business News, leading as co-publisher and executive editor, Tim Bolger as editor and Joanna Austin as vice president of sales — we are launching the Long Island Press newspaper as a monthly news magazine.
Our mission will be to give our readers insightful reporting on politics, business, entertainment and lifestyle plus opinion, commentary and debate. It will be a true celebration of Long Island and its rich history and natural resources, and the people who inspire us.
I feel so privileged to bring back the proud history of the Long Island Press.
When I told my friends about the acquisition, I was amazed at the smiles on their faces as they shared their memories of the legendary newspaper.
Geraldo Rivera recalled how 59 years ago he carried the newspaper on his bicycle when he moved to Babylon. “I was broke. At 14, it was my first job. It taught me business acumen but also when I sold subscriptions, I got as a bonus tickets to Coney Island and Steeplechase. It opened my world,” he declared with a broad smile.
Maria Grasso, senior executive vice president and COO of Flushing Bank said bluntly, “I learned everything I know about business from selling subscriptions to the Long Island Press. Collecting the money each week and keeping records was a unique education as a teenager.”
Peter Meyer, president of the New York City market for TD Bank, honestly said, “I made so much money from tips and subscriptions that I think I had more money in the bank than my parents!”
And there are more memories to be shared.
Now we will build our memories. Enjoy our first issue coming out September 1.
After seven weeks away at sleep away camp, Blake, Morgan and Jonah returned to big hugs and the smothering of kisses as their parents and grandma welcomed them home. They all looked so much bigger and more mature compared to when we sent them off to Tyler Hill Camp.
My heart burst with pride when I heard that Blake had been chosen as Camper of the Year for sophomore boys. A true leader has been born.
I offer my best wishes to Carl Mattone and Demetra Plagakis, one of our former employees, who were recently married.