While some may feel newspapers will eventually become as obsolete as the layout dummies once required to paginate them, an editorial veteran believes otherwise.
"Very local community papers have not felt the impact (of decreased readership) that other, larger papers have felt," said Robert Kimmel, Chairman of the Editorial Board at The Hudson Independent.
Now in its fifth year, the free monthly newspaper has filled a gap in news coverage within Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow and, more recently, Irvington, since it officially launched in February 2006.
"We wanted to be balanced and fair in reporting news about our communities while supporting them," he said. "By doing this, we believe we've become an accepted and trusted source of information."
Kimmel attributed the Independent's success in these precarious economic times in part to its involvement in community activities, and participation with local civic organizations. Most recently, the paper worked with the Chamber of Commerce on the "3/50 Project" – a shop local campaign.
The Hudson Independent's editor Rick Pezzullo said the backbone of the paper will always be its in-depth news coverage.
"It's an interesting time for newspapers since people still want local news and aren't as concerned with dailies," he said.
He credited the paper's increased popularity to sports and expanded news like obituaries, which he introduced when he came aboard in January 2009. The Hudson Independent has also evolved in its short life and will likely undergo more changes in the years to come.
"It (Independent) used to more like a feature paper, and it's now covering more breaking news," Pezzullo said. "We're trying to see how (publishing) monthly goes; I see it getting bigger."
Ossining resident Marcy Gray called it a "smart move" when the grassroots operation hired her in 2005.
"I came as an objective editor – the sole person who didn't live within the three villages," she said. "It's a great newspaper and an unusual enterprise, the most amazing gig I'll ever have, and I'm proud to have worked there."
Upon her departure – following a decision to work on a freelance basis – Gray said of Pezzullo, "I would feel more regret about leaving if I did not know that the newspaper is in such capable hands."
"My dream was to cover the Yankees," Pezzullo said, flashing back to his high school days. "I went to my brother's Little League game in Yorktown and met someone from the North County News and asked how to get started."
His first byline - covering that very game – launched his career as a stringer.
"I liked writing about sports and was good at it, and I got my name in the paper," he said.
Foresight is a virtue in any career, media especially. Once Pezzullo knew he planned to depart from the News he began looking for other options. A chance call to Gray led to a year-long freelance gig as he juggled a full-time job.
"And Rick was the likely choice to succeed me because he'd been writing for me," Gray said.
While the paper has a solid top to bottom staff and editorial board, you might be surprised to know that The Hudson Independent operates from one room and is, well, virtually online.
"Our staff, although we have a small office, communicates mostly via email. " Kimmel said. "Our Editorial Board, a great group of professionals, does meet monthly at our office to discuss coverage."
Each month the editorial board, which boasts a firm journalistic base, meets to discuss the previous issue and look ahead to the next one. It's been a model that has gained them a strong local following, and some regional recognition as well.
"The premise at the beginning was to provide an objective look at what was happening in our communities and maintain journalistic ethics," Kimmel said.
And the work didn't go unnoticed. The newspaper won third place in the New York Press Association's "2006 Better Newspaper Contest" for its education coverage. In November 2008 it was honored as the Rotary Club of the Tarrytowns' "Organization of the Year." That same year Kimmel was named the Rotary's "Person of the Year."
Kimmel's own career was set in high school when he became editor-in-chief of the school newspaper and continued to edit the sports section of Temple University's Temple News. After graduating he worked at a weekly newspaper until he was drafted and became a Paris correspondent for the Armed Forces Network (AFN) and left his mark on ABC, WINS and NBC News.
While Kimmel has been in delivering news on a number of media platforms, he believes The Hudson Independent has found its niche in the community.
"We have an excellent newspaper staff," Kimmel said. "While we feel it's necessary to have a good presence on the Web, our emphasis remains on the paper."