2010-04-22 / This Week's Attitude

After 89 Years In Canarsie, The Courier’s Still Here!

By Neil S. Friedman

Some of us will undoubtedly be thankful — and maybe a little surprised — to live to the ripe old age of 89. So, it’s no wonder the publishers, editors and staff of the Canarsie Courier are delighted that this community newspaper marks a milestone birthday today. We’re 89 years old and we’re still here.

Since April 22, 1921, when the first edition of this weekly hit newsstands, our neighborhood, our nation and our world have endured a multitude of changes — some good, some not so good and some most would rather forget. Through nine decades — from the Roaring Twenties to the second decade of the new millennium — the Courier has existed through the Great Depression, a handful of wars, Americans landing on the moon and exploring deep space, the emergence and evolution of commercial aviation, the rapid growth of extraordinary technologies from television to the Internet, just to name a few. And we’re proud to blow our own horn ‘cause we’re still here!

I’m in my second stint at the Courier. My first began in early 1976 after I received a B.A. in Communications and wound up here when the owners — Bob and Joe Samitz — hired me as the newspaper’s only full-time reporter.

Fresh and eager, I was anxious to start reporting and writing. The notion of my byline atop every article was a nice ego boost, too. All the stories I covered were newsworthy, though some were rather dull, but they were, nonetheless, relevant to the community, yet I always gave my maximum effort to every assignment, which helped polish my skills.

The Samitzes weren’t trained journalists, though Bob reviewed my submissions. More often than not I came to understand his minor revisions, but quickly realized I needed to edit my articles. The lesson proved invaluable and, slowly but surely, made me the capable editor I am today.

The most satisfying aspect about my work, in addition to satisfying my passion for writing, is that I fill pages with words, similar to the painter who fills a canvas with images. In my case, the words are my images that relate the accounts of events I write about. Moreover, I am a part of history — Canarsie’s history.

After a few years at the Courier, I got an itch for something else, so I began a 12-year career in entertainment public relations that allowed me to continue writing — press releases for a variety of clients — and also gave me an extraordinary chance to work in a glamorous field that I also found appealing. Before returning to the Courier 14 years ago, I worked on a number of exciting events, such as the Grammy Awards and tours with Michael Jackson and the Rolling Stones, and met and worked with dozens of celebrities.

I returned to the paper just before the expansion and widespread use of personal computers, so I still wrote my reports on a typewriter. We were still behind the times technologically, “cutting and pasting” every page with ads and articles word processed by staff members. Within a few years, we added computers, which by that time was the standard for journalists and almost every other profession or business.

Despite the decline of newspapers in the last several years, due in part to the devastated economy that led to a significant loss of advertising revenues, as well as the Internet emerging as a major source for breaking news, community newspapers, like the Courier, still provide an irreplaceable service that is lacking from the city’s daily newspapers. Despite a three-person editorial staff and a small cadre of freelance writers and photographers, the Courier covers Canarsie and some surrounding neighborhoods like the Times, the News or the Post can’t — or won’t.

On those rare occasions when you see coverage of local events in any of the city’s three dailies — or even on local newscasts — they are, by and large, about bloody crimes or deadly accidents in the area. Other than that news on Canarsie and most communities outside of Manhattan are almost as unnoticed as international news.

This newspaper covers attention-grabbing news, but we also report on such mundane matters as school events, civic and community meetings and features on area residents, which we hope our readers look forward to every Thursday morning.

On this our birthday, join us in celebrating this momentous occasion and look forward to the Canarsie Courier bringing many more years of news to the community.

We may be 89 years old, but we’re STILL HERE!

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