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Media Options Explode in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow

The media-scape has expanded with the introduction of a new newspaper, expanded circulation for existing newspapers and the emergence of new Internet sites.

Editor's Note: The PennySaver will discontinue its Community publication July 20, and will go back to its regional Pennysaver publication.

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission released a 475-page report that criticized the local media landscape. 

In the report, the FCC noted that in many ways, "today’s media is more vibrant than ever, offering faster and cheaper distribution networks, fewer barriers to entry, and more ways to consume information."

But the FCC warned that this flood of information options has not dealt with a core issue: quality reporting and informing citizen debate and decision making.

"In part because of the digital revolution, serious problems have arisen," the report's summary states. "Most significant among them: in many communities, we now face a shortage of local, professional, accountability reporting," which could lead to "more government waste, more local corruption," and "less effective schools."

Two years ago in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, there were only two monthly papers in production: The River Journal and the Hudson Independent. Now, the local space has been inundated with new publications and options for Village residents to stay informed.

In print publishing, new arrival PennySaver Community is a free, weekly newspaper-format successor to the discontinued PennySaver mailer. The Hudson Independent and the River Journal have also expanded their reach to the north. 

In addition, two Internet companies have recently launched – both Main Street Connect and Community Media on Hudson are looking to attract viewers to their sites. Then there is also the publication you are currently reading, Tarrytown-Sleepy Hollow Patch, which launched in December 2009.

Below are descriptions of the various media outlets at the disposal of the community. But we want to know if these new resources are addressing the concerns of the FCC. What do you think about the standards of journalism and media in the community? Where is our media lacking?

Publications Available in Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow and the Rivertowns

Background descriptions for the key leaders and decision makers at the competing media companies and other relevant information follow:

PennySaver Community. Carla Chase is the CEO and president of Chase Media Group, founded by her parents John and Christa Chase as the Yorktown PennySaver in 1958. The name of the company was changed to the Chase Media Group in January, 2009. It owned and published North County News (a successor to the Yorktowner) for 44 years, discontinuing the print edition in April, 2011 and merging it with its Yorktown PennySaver sister publication to form a single product – PennySaver Community.

There are now nine regional Westchester County versions of the PennySaver Community offering 15 advertising zones with a total circulation of 200,000 in Westchester County. Editions in Putnam and Dutchess Counties reach another 100,000. One version covers Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow/Irvington/Dobbs Ferry editorially. Bruce Apar is the company's Director of News and Information Services and the creator of Bruce the Blog. He had served as the publisher of North County News since July, 2006.

River Journal. Robert Bonvento, the founder and publisher of the River Journal, was a television actor and writer before becoming a publisher. He was in the cast of the ABC soup opera “All My Children” for six years and co-produced and appeared in a 1996 documentary entitled ''Show Biz's Kids: An Insider's Guide to Getting Started in Show Business.'' (An expose of schemes purported to help children make it in show business but whose real purpose was depleting the bank accounts of the parents.) He started River Currents in December, 1997 serving Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow and in 2004 launched River Journal circulated to the same localities. He grew up in Tarrytown and graduated from Sleepy Hollow High School in 1963. Kate Bennett is the Editor. The River Joural recently began publishing in Briarcliff Manor.

The Hudson Independent. Robert Kimmel is one of The Hudson Independent's army of approximately 60 investors; he oversees the publication's operations and has been the chair of its editorial board since its first issue, published in February, 2006. Kimmel was a Paris correspondent for the Armed Forces Network (AFN), a public relations executive, a newspaper sports editor, a writer, editor and news correspondent at ABC News and later its Director of News for Radio. He is also an independent documentary film producer. The publication has not had a publisher since its inception.

Rick Pezzullo joined The Hudson Independent as editor in January, 2009. He worked at North County News for 19 years, starting as a sports stringer while in high school and spending his last 10 years as managing editor, leaving after founder John Chase died. He was also a reporter for the Yorktown Examiner and a communications coordinator for the Westchester County Board of Legislators. The Hudson Independent publishes in Irvington, Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow and Scarborough.

The Rivertowns Enterprise (W.H. White Publications). Deborah G. White was named publisher of The Rivertowns Enterprise in 1984 when her father William H. White purchased the newspaper, five years before his death. It was known at the time as the Enterprise. W.H. White Publications also publishes the The Scarsdale Inquirer and The Record-Review. Tim LaMorte is the Editor of The Rivertowns Enterprise.

Community Media on Hudson. Founder Sunny McLean is a veteran video producer. McLean worked as a studio transmission engineer and in other capacities at NBC News, the Today Show, CBS NewsPath, ABC News, Dateline, WNBC, CNN, Fox's Channel 5, and MTV. Community Media on Hudson recently launched their own website after using Facebook and YouTube as their primary means of reaching the community. Website: www.communitymediaonhudson.org 

Mains Street Connect (National Community News Company).  Editor and Publisher Carll Tucker was the Editor and Publisher of Trader Publications in Cross River, NY, a community news publishing company he founded in 1981 and sold to Gannett in 1999. Prior to that he was the Editor and Publisher of Saturday Review (no longer published) and theater critic for The Village Voice. Carl Lavin is Managing Editor.

MSC has two websites covering Irvington/Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow: www.thedailytarrytown.com and www.thedailysleepyhollow.com. The local reporter for the three-village area is Meredith Shamburger.

Patch (an AOL company). Patch is a national network of over 800 local media sites. Tarrytown-Sleepy Hollow was the 32nd site to launch. , the Editor of the Patch Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow site, is a graduate of the University of Liverpool. is the Editor of the Patch Rivertowns site. A graduate of Pitzer Collage in Claremont, CA, she worked as an intern and reporter at the Pasadena Weekly. More information about Roach and Hedrick appears on the Patch sites. Websites: www.tarrytown.patch.com and www.rivertowns.patch.com

Circulation information for each of the newspapers is as follows:

  • The Hudson Independent. Usually arrives on or a day or two before the first day of the month at all households in Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, Irvington and Scarborough-on-Hudson (an affluent community located in Briarcliff Manor). Free.
  • River Journal. Typically mailed during the second half of the month to all households in Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, Irvington and now Briarcliff Manor. Free.
  • The Rivertowns Enterprise. Published on Fridays. This weekly, paid-subscription newspaper covers Hastings-on-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley and Irvington. Owned by W.H. White Publications, it reports a circulation of 6,000 copies. Cost: $29 per year. 
  • PennySaver Community. Its first weekly edition for Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, Irvington and Dobbs Ferry was dated June 8, 2011. Its second issue, dated June 15, listed a distribution of 18,046. Free.
joy July 12, 2011 at 06:08 PM
re: Heron's feeling -- The River Journal has a slant that I frequently don't agree with I completely agree
Jerry Eimbinder July 12, 2011 at 06:34 PM
PennySaver Community informed its employees yesterday that it is ending publication of its newspaper PennySaver Community because of the state of the market. Its owner (Chase Media Group) will return to publishing the "old" PennySaver at its former size and format beginning on August 3. According to an employee, a form letter announcing the change is being drafted and will be mailed today or tomorrow.
J Grenwig July 12, 2011 at 10:15 PM
It is really wonderful to have so many options available to us - I like getting my daily updates from the Patch, and I really look forward to getting my newspaper (The Hudson Independent) delivered to my home. Both offer professional and unbiased content that can be trusted. Kudos to both!!
Elizabeth Connors July 13, 2011 at 07:18 AM
I for one am very grateful for all the possibilities for learning and informing ourselves these varous "media options" provide. As an ex-newspaper reporter from the old school (no slanting allowed, tough, smart editors overseeing copy and insisting on excellencei), and a huge fan of fact-gathering on the Internet, I don't really mind having to winnow through stories or TV segments that may have a bias, be incomplete or even incorrect. You can't even count on the NY Times these days for well-edited, completely factual articles. Just have to be more skeptical and use what's available but don't count on it. Having said that, I have to congratulate Sean Roach and his colleagues on the Patch for providing local news the old-school way. Gives me hope that there are other young Seans out there who pursue excellence because of their own intelligence and curiosity. s
Jerry Eimbinder July 13, 2011 at 12:45 PM
Correction. The number of founding investors for The Hudson Independent in 2006 was 80, not approximately 60 as mentioned in the story.

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