The Queens Tribune,
The NY Times, and Bob!
The Metro Section of The New York Times on Saturday, Feb. 14 led with a column, "The Commoner of Queens: Average Bob" (above, left) which highlighted the Queens Tribune’s current Queens reality series "Find A Woman For Bob." Check out page 2 of this paper.
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
I have no doubt whatsoever!
In Queens, the Queens Tribune is the paper of record.
We are, and have been for many, many years.
Creative leadership; skilled, investigative reporting; advocacy journalism; established, proprietary controlled distribution; and an understanding of and sensitivity to the heart and soul of this place called Queens, has elevated our brand of community journalism to a separate and unique position in our borough.
We have been making waves and headlines since our birth 34 years ago when little Gary Ackerman first put crayon to paper.
In the almost quarter of a century under my direction, we have replaced Gary’s crayons with the most modern and creative approach to delivering the news.In 1989, we introduced full-color printing to community journalism on the east coast. We’ve pioneered glossy covered newspapers – our first was back in 1990. Our eight-year-old website, in content, still outpaces anything else you’ll find. Our e-mall was the first such online local shopping experience made available in these parts. Our special editions have set the standard nationwide and continue to knock the socks off our readers, advertisers and our industry. The stories we break and the causes we lead gain us the recognition that feeds hungry journalists.All in all, we’re proud of the job we’ve done and continue to do.And I am proud to be the person who has led us through this wonderful journalistic adventure.
I am also proud of the incredible team I have built, trained and assembled. The Tribune today is the most outstanding collection of talented and creative manpower (woman power too) that has ever filled our staff box. Person after person, department after department, they shine. I am lucky to have them; they are lucky to be together; and our readers and borough are lucky to have the fruits of their efforts every week in the Queens Tribune.
Our editorial team is new, bright, energetic and young. Angela Montefinise, our managing editor – that’s the person who runs the news operation – is also all of those things and more. My job is made more exciting by the energy level and raw talent of the guys and gals in our newsroom. I love to teach, drive them and watch their work. It’s good.No, it’s very good.And I get to play chess master, moving the pieces around and throwing out new gambits.
Well, the newsroom started clicking and I felt it was time for more. It was my time to tweak the process, introduce something new, and take things to a next level – again.I called in Angela, had several conversations with her. I included Steve McGuire our anchor and Associate Editor and kept the rest of the newsroom in the loop. Here’s where I was at – and have been there for quite awhile.
Reality shows have taken our culture by storm. It is at this moment in history the most prevalent influence on the electronic media – even more than Janet Jackson’s right breast. And reality shows are fun. Reality dating shows are usually even more fun. Why can’t a newspaper grab the moment? Grasp the magic? Become part of the craze? Newspapers are allowed to be fun, in addition to informing. As a matter of fact the more fun you are, the more compelling you are, the more likely you can effectively inform.
I instructed Ang (and company), "Reality Queens: Queens bachelor, balchlorette, Queens dating game, match game. I don’t care. It doesn’t have to be dating but I can’t really watch Queens residents eat hissing cockroaches or publicly humiliate some failed entrepreneur or contestant.
Dating is an upside oriented adventure – keep it clean, now — and Valentine’s Day is around the corner."Angela picked up the flow. She defined the concept, bounced it off the rest of the staff and then together we refined it a bit. She went back to work, spun the story and brought it back to me – with Bob. Now if you don’t know who Bob is, please read page 2 of this edition or check out the Trib either of the last two weeks.But basically, Angela found Bob and offered him up to the women of Queens. Bob was, well, an average Joe. (Or is it Bob?) The available ladies of Queens merely have to send in their pictures and fill out our coupon and they can be one of the women we fix up with Bob – a Queens native and chief financial officer of a Queens corporation.
Now sit with that, while I explain the other paper of record — the New York Times.It doesn’t seem to matter what happens in our industry or with the Times itself. The paper has achieved a level of unrivaled, universal awe that makes being included in their coverage prima facia evidence of having arrived. I’m not going to spend space on whether it’s deserved. It just is. It doesn’t matter who else writes it, our society accepts the Times as the ultimate – Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes. So every time we make the Times, we revel in the moment.I’m reveling.This past week, I received a call from Dan Barry, the respected New York Times Metro Desk columnist. He was asking about our "Find Bob a Woman" Queens reality series. I asked him if he was interested in Bob. After he convinced me his interest was journalistic, I gave him some background and turned him over to Angela.
This past Saturday’s Times featured a page one Metro Section full-length column by Barry about Bob, his romantic adventure, and the Tribune.Now sure, I would have preferred they chose our advocacy journalism as the theme of their lead feature. Certainly, I put more energy and more value in our news coverage and creative special editions than I do in our pop-culture endeavors.
But that’s what pop-culture is . . . popular.And I guess it was the same force that made me bring Reality Queens to the Trib that made the Times jump on the idea. And since Saturday was Valentine’s Day, timing was in the air and in our favor.Well, the emails and phone calls have started.
I sit at home answering and responding and spinning this column.
It’s fun; it’s a kick; it’s pop culture.As for Bob, I hope he has as much fun with this thing as I am having. I hope he finds Mrs. Bob and that the Trib gets the privilege of writing the next chapter in their Queens Reality Show.
Excuse me; the phone is ringing . . . again.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: