Print Edition Folds After 40 Yeara.

Farewell, Main Street WIRE

Updated 11 weeks ago
Main Street WIRE front page from March, 2017.
Main Street WIRE front page from March, 2017.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

"We believe in the importance of local news and want everyone to have access. But like many newspapers around the country, we can no longer afford the overwhelming costs of printing and distribution," Main Street WIRE editor Briana Warsing conceded, announcing the folding of the print edition after 37 years.

The newspaper launched in 1981 as a source of Roosevelt Island community news in response to the first of many Tram crises dealt with over the years. Dr. Jack Resnick, then a Rivercross pioneer, and his wife originated and ran the WIRE until Dr. Resnick moved away after a divorce, and advertising chores previously handled by his wife were taken over by Ellen Levy. Dr. Resnick remained owner of the newspaper until its final issue.

In the long run, the WIRE gained stability when editorship was taken over by Dick Lutz in 1996, following the retirement of Jim Bowser. Lutz, who died in March, told the story of how he got permission to produce a single issue after the WIRE went for months without one, lacking any editor. Lutz's early interest in internet publishing inspired him to seek the opportunity to promote his online efforts.

Fate and fortune had other ideas.

Click anywhere for details.
Click anywhere for details.

One thing led to another, and Lutz, a veteran journalist, gradually expanded and upgraded the WIRE until it became a journal where quality of reporting and composition far exceeded anything a community as small as ours could realistically expect.

So great was Lutz's genius for putting out a predictably reliable and informative newspaper that it was cause for some panic when he announced plans to retire in 2014. 

Would anyone be able to maintain the standard that made the WIRE a community must read and a source for local business advertising?

With an industry shift underway that resulted in the loss of countless local newspapers as readers shifted to digital and advertisers followed, was that even the right question? Would any quality of reporting be enough in an environment that saw the death of the Village Voice and The Gothamist?

Probably not.

After taking over from Lutz - and getting ongoing support from him until his death - Warsing worked with support staff who stayed on, writing editorials and doing most of the reporting herself. After two years, the challenges proved too great.

The final Main Street WIRE was published in June. A legacy version will continue online and via email as the Main Street WIRE Weekly.

"Future newsletters," Warsing wrote on Saturday, "will be emailed every Sunday evening and will always include the biggest stories from the past week, suggestions for what to do next week, and voices of fellow Islanders on topics that matter to them."

 

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