OP-ED: Giving Readers What They Want In A Newspaper

BY ANTHONY WEINER

Maybe it’s because I don’t like to leave New York City much that it seems that half the world is trying to figure out how we are all going to get our news in the years to come. Broadsheet and tabloid newspapers are struggling to survive in the Internet age. Fewer and fewer Americans are getting information from the nightly newscasts and the notion of “yesterday’s news” has been replaced by a whole new timeline of expired information. Now a story that broke an hour ago is likely to be dated in the torrent of instant updates.

But within these pages appears to be the answer to at least part of the question of what citizens want. For 44 years, the Tribune has been providing news and opinion about Queens neighborhoods and Queens people in a serious and professional way, and readers have been eating it up.

When any enterprise endures for as long as the Tribune has, there is a tendency to try to figure out the formula, especially when so much about Queens itself has changed in the last generation. But to those of us who read the paper and particularly those of us who have seen the paper as an essential part of our jobs, when we look at the success of the Tribune, there isn’t much mystery.

It starts with an understanding that like politics, the issues that folks care to read about the most are the ones on their street; in their schools; that affect their families. They may gather around the water cooler at work and chat about things in Washington or across the globe, but the abandoned work site on their corner or the rezoning of their daughter’s elementary school just seems more important a lot of the time.

The Tribune honors this idea by drilling into local stories and treating them as important. It does so by giving its mostly young cadre of reporters a sense of the value of what they are doing.

As someone who had nearly daily interactions with Tribune reporters for more than 15 years, I can tell you they are what you would hope all reporters would be: dedicated to getting the story correct; deeply caring about the human beings behind the stories, and respectful of the vital role they play in our democracy.

When I had the extraordinary honor of serving Queens in Congress, I prided myself on how available I was to my constituents via Town Hall meetings, door-to-door walking tours, even giant conference calls that I invited all my neighbors to join. I did it because it was my job to hear what citizens were saying.

But right there at every turn, keeping the conversation honest, was the Tribune. Giving me and my colleagues both a platform to speak to Queens and a loud and honest voice coming back. For 44 years, the Queens Tribune has been giving us the information we really want and served as the scaffolding for the lively debate that makes representative government tick. If we are lucky, no matter what else goes on in the future in the changing world of news, the Queens Tribune will be right there serving it up for us the way we like it.

Anthony Weiner is a former elected official, representing Queens in the City Council and the House of Representatives. Last year, he ran for Mayor in the Democratic primary.