Amid the gloom, though, some believe that Sandy could actually help affected papers.
Ken Akulin, general manager of Long Island City-based Stellar Printing, is one industry veteran who shares this opinion.
“Everyone now is interested in what happened in their particular neighborhood. What trees are down? Is the post office open?” said Akulin, whose clients include many of the neighborhood and ethnic newspapers in the city, including The Wave.
Indeed, some local newspapers are throwing themselves into storm coverage despite their limited resources. While scaling back print circulation and publishing more online might make more long-term business sense, especially with electricity now returning to the most devastated areas of the city, several editors said that returning the print newspaper to their neighborhoods could provide a comforting return to normalcy for residents.
To that end, Jennifer Goodstein, publisher of The Villager and several other small papers in lower Manhattan, launched a new weekly paper last week called NYC Reconnects. She said the purpose of the paper is to unite those in need with resources and volunteers, and it will be distributed exclusively to the devastated neighborhoods below 23rd Street.
Goodstein returned to The Villager office the day after Sandy hit to find the basement flooded with six feet of seawater. Eight decades of newspaper archives were destroyed. The paper has been nomadic ever since, spending its first week after the hurricane working out of the CUNY journalism school. It is now renting a temporary office at MetroTech, a multipurpose office building in Brooklyn Heights.
While the paper hasn’t missed an issue since the storm, a full financial recovery would have to move in lockstep with local business, Goodstein said.
“We won’t be out of the woods until they’re out of the woods,” she said.
Some papers are adapting their advertising post-Sandy. Mark Weidler, publisher of the Queens Chronicle, said the paper has made up half its lost advertising revenue through hurricane-related ads. Some of these include ads from a junk car company, construction companies, and electricians, he said.
The Chronicle—which suffered little damage to its office—also hosted the staff of The Forum, the Howard Beach community newspaper, for the first week after the storm.
Chronicle Editor in Chief Peter Mastrosimone said The Forum’s office had been “essentially destroyed.”
The Wave staff is now working out of an office one floor above their old one. It’s half the size, equipped with hand-built desks and donated computers, and isn’t big enough to house the entire staff, Bernstein said. He expects them to be there for six to nine months.
The building still doesn’t have hot water back, and the original ground floor office is now stripped bare. Bernstein doesn’t know if he’ll bother moving back there. He doesn’t know much at this point; he’s just waiting for business to return.
“We’re going to be publishing, but I think it’s going to be a struggle,” he said.