If you look at the top of this month’s front page you will notice that we are kicking off “Volume 8,” meaning the Trib is entering its eighth year of publication.
Around this time of year we always have some kind of little celebration with our wide variety of assorted and invaluable helpers — office staff, delivery people, writers, photographers, interns, etcetera — to thank them for all they do to help make each new issue of the Trenton Trib a reality on a monthly basis.
It’s definitely a much-needed thank you because we couldn’t do it without them. We also feel like it’s important to acknowledge the end of one year and the start of another, because we don’t take any of them for granted.
After all, our roots go back to 2009, when my co-publisher and good friend Kathy Kane started a fledgling little four-page publication called the Trenton Tribute. Considering the economic times we were in then, sinking into the depths of perhaps the worst recession since The Great Depression, it was a pretty gutsy if not crazy thing to do.
But her motivation was never based on profit. It was based on comments she had heard from many people about how much they missed the Trenton Times and how Trenton needed to have a community newspaper. She was trying to fill a need, hoping that it would turn out to be financially feasible.
The circumstances were much the same just a little over a year ago, when residents on Grosse Ile reached out to us, frustrated and disappointed over the loss of their longtime hometown newspaper, the Ile Camera. By working in conjunction with several residents willing to be content contributors, we were able to figure out a way to provide some regular coverage beginning last September.
So we also are marking a new milestone this September, after completing our first year of covering of the Island.
It’s still a work in progress, and we are tweaking and adjusting the presentation of the newspaper virtually every month to make it work for Trenton and Grosse Ile readers alike.
Some of the reader feedback has been interesting. Some Trenton readers have said they preferred it with just Trenton news. But when the suggestion was made that at some point we might do two separate editions, others chimed in, “but I want the Grosse Ile news, too!”
Grosse Ile readers, on the other hand, just seem happy and grateful to have coverage, even if it isn’t quite the same as when the Camera was in its heyday.
As challenging as it has been to make the content package work for everyone, I have thoroughly enjoyed the process. My feeling has always been that when we get too parochial in our thinking we get kind of a distorted view of reality and start thinking we are different from other communities in ways that we truly are not.
Though separated by the Trenton Channel, Trenton and Grosse Ile have far more commonalities than differences. It been amazing to me just to see the number of “crossover” residents — those who have lived in both cities — the number of Trenton and Grosse Ile business owners who live in the other city, and how the histories of both communities are so closely intertwined.
The bottom line is we have way more connecting us than just those couple of two lane bridges.
Please note also that, while we are “visiting” Brownstown this month, we are not “expanding” to Brownstown. We’ve been doing special sections on neighboring communities for the last four years, but our main motivation there is to have a way to show business in those communities that the Trib is a viable and cost-effect place for them to advertise. (Next month, btw, we are visiting Wyandotte).
And, while you have seen the size of the paper grow and probably know by now that we doubled our distribution in June to 10,000, please don’t anyone get the idea that Kathy and I are out shopping for a corporate jet or hiring an architect to design a Trump-like office palace on the riverfront (though the thought of that is pretty darn cool, honestly).
Yes, we are financially solvent, but most of the revenue we have generated with the Trib has been reinvested directly into the community by employing local people and purchasing “locally” whatever goods and services we can.
We both still maintain other businesses as our main sources of income, and expect to do that for the foreseeable future. Going forward, I truly believe our biggest potential threat to our future is not the economy, but community apathy. We are not so much the new thing in Trenton anymore, but while in some ways that’s a good thing, it also may serve to lull people into the belief that the newspaper will just continue to appear every month regardless of whether or not they do anything to help support it.
But we call it “OUR” hometown newspaper for a reason. It’s not just the Kathy and Joe show, it’s a community effort. We will need the support as many people as possible — whether by advertising, or sending us articles and photos, or joining our recently-launched (and very low-cost) “Team Trib” membership program, or just putting in a good word for us with someone.
Every little bit helps. Thank you again for your support an encouragement.