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A sobering look at amNewYork's new Schneps overlords

What Will amNewYork Look Like Under The Schneps Empire?, Gothamist's Jake Offenhartz wrote today, and the answer is: not good. First, as the article notes, amNew York seems to be repurposing articles from other Schneps community papers like The Villager, the Bronx Times, and Brooklyn Paper.

Note: Schneps not only owns Brooklyn Paper, once a feisty weekly, but also owns Brownstoner, once a more independent blog. In both cases, its purchases came after those publications were sold to new owners to to some degree tamed them.

Here's Offenhartz's key finding:
According to current and former reporters and editors who spoke to Gothamist, the Schneps playbook involves cozying up to advertisers and local powerbrokers, while muzzling critical coverage of friends and public officials close to the owners...
“It very quickly became clear that they’re less of a news company than a promotions company,” said Vince DiMiceli, the former editor-in-chief of Brooklyn Paper, who was let go two months after Schneps’ acquired Community News Group last September. “They wanted to make sure that anything we wrote about any politician was glowing. That's not what newspapers do.”
Reporters at multiple Schneps-owned properties said that the family was particularly fixated on pleasing local judges, since they dictate placement of the mandatory legal notices that remain a major source of revenue for community newspapers. 
Moreover, former staffers report being instructed to treat award winners--in the publication's regularly promotional events--with kid gloves, and had real-estate listings forwarded to them by advertising staff for editorial coverage.

The revenue

I'm not sure the judges dictate placement of mandatory legal notices, but the judges are typically connected to the county political firmament, as is the County Clerk. New York State rules state:
The county clerk, of the county in which the office of the limited liability company is located, designates the newspapers for publication. One newspaper must be printed daily and the other printed weekly.
A comment in response:
There are other types of legal notices by publication that judges do influence, such as service by publication when a party cannot be found.
But such notices do prop up certain print publications. One commenter pointed out:
Just popping in here to say that New York's public notice laws are bullshit and antiquated and fund dubious rent-seekers. The LLC formation publication notice is particularly bullshit and ought to be supplanted by publicly-available online databases.
In other words, print publications, including the Brooklyn Eagle--which is now running a solid digital news operation, to which I've contributed--rely on revenue from outdated state requirements (as Liena Zagare and Ben Smith pointed out, for CJR), including that those forming limited liability companies (LLCs) publish notices in print.

As the commenter pointed out, it's far more likely that online databases would support the purpose of the law.

Comments