The Express News Group: Here’s what we’ve been up to
The Express News Group has had a busy few months. The depth and reach of reporting stories on the East End has expanded greatly thanks to the pooling of resources between The Sag Harbor Express and The Press News Group publications. From the outer edges of Remsenburg and Speonk to the banks of Amagansett and Montauk, and every hamlet in between, The Express News Group staff are uncovering stories that need to be told.
“We have boots on the ground — reporters at almost every town and village meeting, ensuring that no important story goes uncovered,” The Express News Group Co-Publisher Gavin Menu said as he reflected on the year. “We are proud to say that while most newspaper mergers end up with dramatic cuts, we have grown our presence in the communities we serve.”
As the year comes to a close, here are some highlights of that coverage.
Our Sessions events underlined important issues and their potential solutions
Since June, over 400 community members attended eight Sessions events, a new series of issue-based discussions held over lunch. Each event centered on a timely and important topic, from wind farms to affordable housing, and the discussions have the potential to bring about real change on the East End.
In both Southampton and East Hampton villages, store owners, local officials and homeowners came together to figure out how both business districts can remain lively places in the off season despite rising rents. Several attendees acknowledged that more affordable housing might increase the use of businesses on Main Street. Many agreed too on the importance of holding public events that draw local families to the village.
In Sag Harbor, community members had a chance to share their vision for the new Sag Harbor Cinema. From retaining the original Cinema’s appeal — including the showing of foreign and independent films — to the desire for broader programming and affordable prices, the community played a role in shaping their own village.
In Westhampton Beach, discussion of the long-awaited sewer project encouraged members of the business community to hold meetings on their own and discuss various ways to move the village forward.
“The Sessions allow us to reach even more people, make new contacts and truly understand what the community is up against,” said reporter Greg Wehner. “There are so many different angles to a story that are often unnoticed, and the Sessions help expose them.”
One such angle came about during the East Hampton session on the proposed South Fork Wind Farm, where a local fisherman shared potential challenges and dangers to navigating around wind turbines in bad weather.
“It’s filling a niche, well,” Executive Editor Joseph Shaw said of the Sessions events. “This region needed this. The response so far has been stunning — uniformly positive.”
Subscribers to The Express News Group publications receive early and priority access to these lunchtime events, and tickets almost always sell out.
Our reporting has spanned both national and local levels
The Express News Group reporters tirelessly covered each of the local village and town elections. From in-depth profiles of candidates to reporting on election results in real-time, community members’ votes were backed by informed choices.
In Southampton Village, for example, there was extensive coverage of the mayoral election. It was the first time in over a decade that the incumbent mayor was challenged by a political newcomer.
On the national level, veteran reporter Michael Wright has reported on U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin’s growing influence in Congress, including the representative’s staunch support of President Donald Trump and his simultaneous efforts to help derail the impeachment inquiry.
“This region needs its small papers desperately,” Mr. Wright said. “Small town government can quickly go awry if there is not close detailing of the doings of government.”
We highlighted how climate change is showing up on the East End
The Express News Group joined over 300 news organizations worldwide committed to covering climate change in their respective communities. Covering Climate Now, an initiative led by The Nation, Columbia Journalism Review and The Guardian, had a combined audience of over 1 billion and is an ongoing effort to cover what the group calls “the defining story of our time.”
The Express News Group is committed to showing how climate change is happening on the South Fork. Just last week, we covered how East Hampton Town is strategizing to combat rising sea levels, one of the more well-known symptoms of climate change.
“Our core principle is supporting the communities we serve, working as their watchdogs in terms of government and education, and telling as many important stories as we possibly can,” said Mr. Menu.
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