WEST ORANGE, NJ — On November 26, Friends of the West Orange Public Library held a public meeting with the managing editor of the Chronicle Newspaper, Yael Katzwer, in the West Orange Public Library.
Prior to Katzwer speaking, President of the Friends of the Public Library, Jerry Sweeney, spoke about the Civic Information Consortium. While the bill is still pending in the state legislature, the consortium would work to fund and support local newspapers in the state during a time where people turn to online media outlets instead of reading the local papers. Numerous state universities have already agreed to work with the state on this including the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).
Once Sweeney finished discussing the consortium, he then introduced Katzwer to the audience. In addition to being the Managing Editor of The Chronicle, Katzwer also works for the South Orange and Maplewood Report, which was founded in 1886.
To begin, Katzwer began speaking about how the Chronicle functions. The Chronicle was founded in 1930 and is West Orange’s primary source of news. Every issue is laid out every Tuesday and gets mailed every Thursday to those who receive the paper. The Chronicle is the only West Orange centric newspaper that report events going on in the town in depth. While the Star Ledger does publish a few West Orange related articles, it is not West Orange centric, meaning that not a lot of information about the town can or will be reported.
In addition to comparing the Chronicle with the Star Ledger, Katzwer also compared it to news on social media. Predominantly on Facebook, people read and share articles that they consider to be “news”. Katzwer explained that with the majority of the information published on social media, it can be hard to determine what it credible or not credible. The Chronicle only publishes credible West Orange articles.
After the functioning of the paper was discussed, Katzwer began to speak about another important aspect: the future. At its prime, The Chronicle provided a reliable source of news to thousands of citizens city-wide. But with the print newspaper business on the decline, The Chronicle is finding it hard to keep these numbers as high as they once were. Numerous print newspaper businesses have already had numerous budget cuts and layoffs. As of now, The Chronicle only has three people on staff, with the majority of its reporters being freelance journalists.
For this reason, it has become difficult for the public to reach the press. Katzwer offered her own opinion to help solve this problem. She suggested that readers should reach out to The Chronicle at least two weeks prior to the event in order to have an editor find a reporter to cover the event in time. If one were to reach out at a time later than two weeks, it makes it harder for the editor to find someone and to determine if it still possible for anyone to come at all. However, Katzwer does invite the public to send any photos and information about the event if no reporter was able to come.
Other than the issue of short staff for The Chronicle, more newspaper businesses are turning to the internet rather than printing out hard copies of the paper. Katzwer explained that it can be hard to juggle both print and an online website, and that some online newspaper websites are even hard to navigate such as NJ.com. For now however, The Chronicle will remain a hard copy newspaper.
Members of The Pioneer staff who attended the discussion enjoyed the opportunity to hear about the local newspaper and talk with Katzwer later on. The staff learned so much about the industry and have shared what they learned with their fellow staff members. They would also like to extend their gratitude to the Friends of the Public Library for inviting them to the event.