Two long-standing community newspapers that have covered Bay Ridge and surrounding neighborhoods, collectively, for more than 155 years, are going separate ways in their political leanings. Bitter clashes between Republicans and Democrats, which have come to reflect locally the intransigence so obvious nationally, have led the new publisher to force the titles to choose sides.
“I have full confidence in our editorial staff to handle political hard news stories with fairness and impartiality,” said J.D. Hasty, publisher. “But I believe the different constituencies residing in these neighborhoods cry out for a strong expression of opinion–in both elections and local issues.”
Hasty said he expected to face some “hate mail and and tart tweets” about his choice to designate the Home Reporter a “little C” conservative voice, and the Spectator a more progressive voice in the community.
“I have observed Bay Ridge for many years,” he added, “and it is ironic that traditionally the Spectator was the more conservative voice….I fully expect to be thrown out of Bay Ridge restaurants for this role reversal.”
Hasty added that the popular website, brooklynreporter.com, would remain completely neutral in political coverage.
In recent years the two newspapers had been nearly identical, except for different front pages and a few inside pages. In future editions, more pages in each will be devoted to the different constituencies.
Hasty added that the two newspaper would share non-political news and features that would be of general local interest to all neighborhoods covered.
Symbolic of the change are the different endorsements in the heated battle for the State Senate seat in the 22nd district. In its Oct. 26 edition, The Home Reporter endorsed incumbent Republican State Senator Marty Golden, calling him a “native son of Bay Ridge.” The Spectator will endorse Golden’s Democratic party opponent Andrew Gounardes in its next edition, which will be published on Nov. 2.
The Home Reporter, now in its 66th year of publication, was founded by the late Frank Griffin.
The Spectator, now in its 89th year, was published by Walter Haas until it was purchased by Griffin in 1974.