Former Editor/Publisher Dick Lutz wrote this editorial – edited here slightly – for the December 12, 2015, issue of The WIRE, expecting it to be his last before retirement (in fact, he would stay on for another year). In it, he expresses his gratitude for all of you, the people of Roosevelt Island and we think it bears repeating.
It’s the best “job” I’ve ever had. Most jobs pay in mere money. This one – as editor, publisher, news analyst, commentator, editorialist, photographer and often chief reporter for The Main Street WIRE – is paid in far more important currency: The knowledge that, because of this newspaper, Roosevelt Island would be a better place, and Roosevelt Islanders would be better informed about their home.
I have often said to friends that a lot of big-city journalists used to muse over the idea of quitting the rat-race and buying a small weekly newspaper somewhere, then putting their feet up on a desk and enjoying the simpler life of a country publisher. Those who turned that musing into something real spent a lifetime of savings doing it, then found that they had to work harder than ever before, for less money, with less interesting news to cover.
I, on the other hand, didn’t have to buy The Main Street WIRE. It was here, waiting for me. And while I did work harder than ever before in my life, for less money, no money, or occasionally having to subsidize the paper, the news was interesting and important. It doesn’t get much better than a community often badly run from Albany by sometimes corrupt appointees with little inherent interest in the community they mismanage. It doesn’t get much better than a Beirut-like struggle for democracy against a politically indifferent New York State. It doesn’t get much better than a close-knit island community with 50-some organizations.
The people don’t get much better, or more interesting, than our Roosevelt Island population. And the place – a piece of Manhattan, New York, USA – couldn’t be situated in a more exciting context.
It’s a hell of a lot of work. And it’s been the dream job for a lifelong journalist.
No small part of it are the people I’ve had the great honor to work with – dedicated, smart, determined, willing, and the best friends of community journalism in the world. For fear of slighting too many, I will name none here. They know who they are, and they know the contributions they have made. And they know that I am eternally grateful.
But this must be said, in clear words: Thank you, Roosevelt Island. That having been said...I now turn editorial responsibility for The WIRE over to Briana Warsing. Jack’s groundbreaking practice of medicine here – revolutionary ideas of how to keep a population healthy – were complemented by his insight and energy in founding The Main Street WIRE some 36 years ago. My 19 years pale when compared to that singular moment in this newspaper’s history.
I believe this Island, more than any other community of this size, needs a newspaper. For many, a website would be a possible substitute, but it would suffer from the deficiency of being ignored by too many, while a newspaper, delivered to one’s doorstep, compels attention.
The need for a newspaper here rises from the stench of Albany, the seat of the recognizably most dodgy state government in the land. It rises from the habit of too many governors to pay off their supporters or fundraisers with a job where they can perform brilliantly, badly, or just phone it in (and we’ve had an excess of the last two). It rises from this community’s conversion – a sudden one when considered against The WIRE’s lifespan of 36 years – from a community of affordable housing to one in which million-dollar apartments are not unusual, and housing costs soar toward the eye-popping numbers of Manhattan. It rises from our isolation. It rises from the need for a residential community to hold its own as a great university unavoidably begins to dominate the landscape.
It rises from the need for a public good to balance the scales against all that can go wrong when the community’s management is dominated by non-residents often unable to see even the simplest things from a resident’s point of view.
I therefore hope that Briana Warsing will succeed, and that The WIRE will continue to succeed and serve. If I could magically grow younger instead of older, I would not vacate this post. But it is time to get on with other projects, deferred for 19 years while dedicated to this community enterprise.
Again, because it bears repeating: Thank you, Roosevelt Island.