Friday, Jan. 20, 2023, was the day The Hudson Reporter newspapers died. What was once a vibrant series of individual newspapers in Jersey City, Bayonne and a bunch of North Hudson towns, eventually became two editions and the staff was reduced significantly. One of those former staffers was The Observer’s former sports writer Jim Hague, a major reason why people picked up those newspapers in the first place.
When the obituary for The Hudson Reporter broke that day on social media, there were scores and scores of replies from readers musing, “How could this happen? We need local newspapers in our community.”
And while it is so very true of the need for local journalism, the answer as to why this happened is so simple to note yet so impossibly difficult to solve.
A look the last Hudson Reporter — published Jan. 19, 2023 — reveals it was a grand total of 12 pages. There were four local ads. One was for a Bayonne business, another from the State of New Jersey, one from a gigantic hospital conglomerate and one was from a restaurant chain. Not one of those four paid-for ads were for a business within the readership area — North Hudson and Jersey City. There were also a few, generic, national ads.
So the last edition had six ads in total over 12 pages. There were also two classifieds that may have netted the company $50 tops — it was more than likely even less than that.
The simple reality: weekly newspapers survive with one source of revenue — advertising. When advertising dies off, so, too, does the newspaper. It’s happening across the board in the print industry. Why? There are just too many reason to list. But one of the biggest is social media. So many business owners think, heck, why pay for advertising when I can use Facebook?
Every time a private citizen posts something like, “Look at the new store in town,” it’s another nail in the print newspaper world’s coffin. It’s a harsh reality, one we’ve had to accept here at The Observer, at times, also.
So while there are those who will lament the loss of The Hudson Reporter — I am certainly one of those people — I can’t help but wonder how many of these folks are business owners who never took out an ad for their business?
I can’t help but wonder how few people realize most small newspapers operate solely on ad revenue? I wonder how many people realize our newspaper is as much a business in Kearny as any deli, garage, restaurant, liquor store, daycare center, gas station, cafe, diner, law office, accounting office, etc., is?
If you love a local business, but rarely, if ever, spend money in it, you really should not be shocked when that business eventually has to shut its doors.
Such was the case for The Reporter, 40 years after its birth. No one could have predicted this in 1983, or 1887, frankly.)
Few to no ads = no newspaper (just as in when there are no eaters, there’s no restaurant.) I pray the industry may one day rebound for all of this. But by no means will I hold my breath in anticipation of it happening.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.