By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
BushwickBK describes itself as "your online resource for everything about Bushwick, some Ridgewood, and maybe a slice of East Williamsburg." Which is to say that labeling the site a "blog" rankles editor-in-chief Jeremy Sapienza—it's far more like a culturally astute community newspaper with apartment ads, event listings, forums for venting, and all that. "A blog is where usually a single contributor just vomits random anythings, with no distinction between types of content or importance—it all just scrolls mindlessly from top to bottom, new to old," Sapienza explains. "We have actual reporters who go out and dig up original stories and cover local events"—original stories like the mysterious disappearance of a beloved, year-round Santa statue, and the unsightly defacement of an Obama mural by battling graffiti crews; local events like community board meetings, art openings, and updates on a Melrose Street condo complex that has been nicknamed "The Hep of Poop."
Sapienza, who characterizes himself as "shy and private by nature," first started BBK in April 2007, when he was moving there and couldn't find any current information on the neighborhood. Nearly three years later, he's the only uncompensated affiliate—he pays contributors from modest revenue earned by advertising—but has never used the site to gain favor with locals. Quite the opposite. "I forbid my local friends from introducing me as connected to BushwickBK," he says. "I do not want anyone I do not know to recognize me or know who I am on the street, and so far, I've done a pretty good job of keeping it that way." That said, he's mindful that the area is rapidly changing and that the subjects he covers skew toward younger Life Café–hanging "creative class types" rather than old-timers, though he's always struggling to bridge that gap. Certainly no one else is. "Unless someone is killed," he says, "there isn't much major media presence here." —DODERO
The nonprofit BNN is a portal for a series of community newspapers, with a mix of paid staffers and guest bloggers. You can get to the papers' sites from there (and to choice Bronx blogs like BoogieDowner), but BNN has its own blog and provides a quick daily skim of local news, most of which you're not going to get in the dailies. For example, when State Senator Rubén Díaz was yelling, "They are murderers!" outside an abortion clinic in University Heights recently, the big papers stayed away; only BNN attended and got the story.
"We think of it more as a blog than a portal," says executive editor Jordan Moss. "We want people to be aware of our papers, but we want BNN to be the place where you get your Bronx news and information every day. We all blog on our free time when we're not busy with the print thing."
Moss is happy to see BNN's stories get picked up by the big papers, and by politicians. "Our goal has always been to push important things up the media food chain," he says, "so that people here and beyond the Bronx, who make decisions that affect us, can see it." BNN constantly get calls on its stories from government officials and their staffers. "There's a lot about them," he says, "so they want to see it."
Moss is convinced this has an impact—for example, on the Kingsbridge Armory shopping center plan, recently rejected by the City Council in defiance of Mayor Mike Bloomberg's wishes: "The day before the vote," says Moss, who's written dozens of stories on the Armory over the years, "I wrote this long retrospective piece, and posted it at 10 the night before. I get there and the Council folks had seen it. They had all read that. I'm not saying it had a huge impact—but it's part of the mix." —EDROSO
Anyone who's lived in New York for more than a few months will start grumbling that things have changed and the good places are going away. "Jeremiah Moss," as he calls himself, is a longtime East Villager and marketing writer who, as he says, "wasn't content to grumble, in that all my grumbling was making me miserable. And the people around me were sick of hearing it." So, starting in 2007, he started blogging. The result is Jeremiah's Vanishing New York, which notes the passing of just about everything, in the EV and surrounding locales, that fades away—an old sign, a great bar, a good friend.
"Times Square just about kills me," Moss says, as he ticks off the most hurtful departures. "Most recently, Skyline Books . . . the Amato Opera House on Bowery . . ." Among the people he misses is Eddie Boros, the East Village eccentric who built the once-famous Tower of Toys at the 6th Street and Avenue B Community Garden, "which the city destroyed after his death—the typical 'New York character' is an endangered species today."
JVNY's valedictory tone, a continuing homage to things that pass, has attracted a sturdy, like-minded readership and got the Daily News to publish a Moss op-ed in which he suggested that "many of us welcome" the recession because it might break open the "gated community" that Manhattan has become and bring back a city where "rents are reasonable, small businesses can thrive, artists can flourish . . ."