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Welcome to New College Park Newspaper!

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The launch of a new print newspaper in nearby College Park is counter to the tide of papers closing, and great news for local journalism. So congratulations to College Park, a city that’s had NO newspaper or news website for – well, I don’t know how long, but too long.

The May 2020 issue of the College Park Here and Now is now in print and has been sent by USPS to every address in the city. An online version is coming soon but in the meantime, the issue is here, using Issuu.

Last December the city had announced the coming of the paper through its agreement with Hyattsville Community Newspaper Inc , the publisher of Hyattsville Life and Times, a similar publication. Both are nonprofit.

The first issue is finally a reality and was announced in the May 18 newsletter of College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn. He wrote that “College Park is helping cover the start-up costs of the new newspaper as they work to increase advertising revenue. Copies of the newspaper will be mailed monthly to all commercial and residential addresses around the City! The newspaper will also be available around the community at local grocery stores and other businesses, and online.”

Editor Mark Goodson’s first column spoke to the elephant in the room – what it was like launching in the middle of the pandemic shutdown.

Before the pandemic hit, I imagined writing this debut editorial from one of College Park’s hip gathering places. I pictured myself sitting in The Hall, inspired by the vitality of this new enterprise, imagining the many ways the paper will be exploring the community we share.

Instead, I’m writing this editorial right where I’ve sat for the last eight weeks: my dining room table.  At this table, i know homeschooled my kids and tele-taught literature classes for my high school students….

If circumstances were different, this edition would have focused on the two topics that surveyed residents wanted to read about most: upcoming city events and local business. Then, all of a sudden, those events were cancelled, and businesses began to close.

News Review editor Gary Childs, advertising manager Sylvia Lewis and Hyattsville Community Newspaper VP Chris Currie

News Review editor Gary Childs, advertising manager Sylvia Lewis and Hyattsville Community Newspaper VP Chris Currie

Fortunately I had the chance to speak with the paper’s vice president and business manager, Chris Currie (photo above) when he visited the offices of the Greenbelt News Review and chatted with editor Gary Childs and me. He had emailed Gary to say “I’d love to see where ‘the Weekly Miracle’ is made! Honestly, I can’t even imagine how volunteers can put together a newspaper on a weekly basis, much less have kept it going for so many decades.” True that!

Gary and I learned that the new paper would be mostly advertiser-supported, just like the print Hyattsville Life and Times, and they would be recruiting “both paid and volunteer editorial and business staff in the very near future.”

  • Under the agreement with the City of College Park, the publisher receives $30,000 a year, mainly to pay for the centerpiece of the new print version – the city’s newsletter – plus some one-time start-up costs.
  • As a 501c3 nonprofit, the paper is eligible for MUCH lower USPS rates for delivery the paper. But as Gary explained, home delivery by local kids is a long tradition of the News Review, a cherished one. The gig doesn’t pay a lot – just $10/week – but delivery kids have been known to receive as much as $800 in holiday tips..
  • While an online version is coming, it’s not expected to be an income-generator. The online version of the Hyattsville Life and Times runs at a loss.
Asked about the trend of local papers closing, Currie confirmed that ad rates are down nationally but that his paper had not lowered theirs, though they hadn’t been raised in years, either. Sadly, rates for online ads have brought all ad pricing down, even for print. In fact, online versions of papers are subsidized by print advertising.
Importantly, the new paper is independent of the City of College Park, as the Hyattsville paper is from the City of Hyattsville, and that independence is important to residents.
That reminds me of the situation in Takoma Park, where I used to write for the Takoma Voice. Since it folded, the only publication covering news there is the Takoma Park Newsletter – an organ of the city government. So residents who oppose city policies have nowhere to get their message out.
Here in Greenbelt, we value the long-enduring independence of the News Review and its impact on Greenbelt history. Greenbelt Online is also independent, very happily so.
Follow Susan Harris:
“Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com and direct the nonprofit Good Gardening Videos.org.”

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