Bucking the trend
Love and commitment sustain a decades old print-based local newspaper
Queensborough Community College’s Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams, a New York City media executive, marks the 30th anniversary of New York Trend, her Great Neck-based, historically black, woman-owned, alternative, independent weekly newspaper.
Read by thousands (in print and on-line) throughout the five boroughs and Long Island, Trend began humbly, headquartered in her parents’ cramped basement in St. Albans. The kitchen doubled as the newsroom, and the dining table, housing a clunky laptop programmed with very basic layout and design software called PageMaker, was where it was composed. An unsecured personal loan, from local bankers who believed in her, got the ink flowing.
“When I finally received a booking authorization on the fax for an insert from an advertiser I had been chasing for three years, I knew we’d make it happen and I was truly in business,” says Dr. Taylor-Williams, who describes Trend as “more multicultural and less agenda-driven” than other black-run city newspapers.
“We wanted to make a difference and appeal to a wider, younger audience. Literally, I would be cooking for everyone and we’d be trying to put out a 28-page paper to serve the needs of people in our community, not the established and powerful,” explains the Adjunct Assistant Professor in Psychology.
“I always wanted a media property that was not under the influence of an investor. It was excruciatingly hard to make it work. I was a little girl in a man’s world and being a woman was not good for business. I had, and still have, so many nonsensical battles that cost me. But at least I have full control.”
A close-knit family affair, Trend staff have included her children, mom (who was the office manager and chief typist) and her 89-year old father, Robert, the Distribution Manager who has supported the paper from day one. He and a legion of staff still hand-deliver papers to an estimated readership of over 60,000.
Taylor-Williams’s interests in community affairs, education and psychology were backed-up by a shrewd business sense, all of which helped launch the paper in 1989. Her interest in journalism, however, pre-dates Trend.
“I developed my love for news when I was really small and I’d go with my grandfather around the corner to buy the Daily News. I would mimic him. When no one was around I would open the paper and read it over a cup of coffee, too,” she chuckles, still preferring inky fingertips today to swiping and scrolling screens.
Taylor-Williams, who wrote in high school, got her first break as a journalist at another historically black paper, The New York Voice, as Executive Editor and Manager. Since then she has trained hundreds of fledgling journalists from Queens and throughout the city. Queensborough’s Alex Ordonez, a full-time student from Flushing, is a current Trend intern.
“Journalism is a relatively new interest for me and I’m intrigued. I read a lot of current events and follow sports and entertainment bloggers. I’m pleased to be able to get my foot in the door,” says Alex, who transferred from a college in Upstate New York to enroll at Queensborough.
He will work hard, according to Taylor-Williams.
“Because of technology, it’s easy to have a media presence today with little or no investment. But young journalists can’t just be a flash in the pan; they must read, read, read and write, write, write and stick with it to actually get anywhere.”
One of Taylor-Williams’s most satisfying moments as an emerging leader was going with her mom to pick up first-run bundles of Trend from the print shop and transporting them in her father’s car to circulation points. 15 years later, in Washington, she made national publishing history.
The Library of Congress placed New York Trend on display as part of it Chronicling America: Historic American Newspaper series. It was a life-changing experience for Taylor-Williams – “My husband said ‘you are going to go be remembered for this’ ” – but she does not consider herself a trailblazer.
“I look at the women publishers during the abolitionist movement in the south who would print fliers and mini-newspapers and get them to the rail network redcaps for distribution up north. They moved that agenda and helped end slavery. They risked their lives to help,” she explains. “I’ve only risked some money.”
A recent issue contained stories about investments for start-up women-owned businesses, the NAACP’s fight to end gun violence, and students’ participation in historical preservation in Maryland, as well as a wide variety of entertainment and sports pieces.
Taylor-Williams’s longevity as editor and publisher is commendable especially as newspapers ads sales and circulation decline across the sector.
“I’m still here because I work with people who share my commitment. We are proud to do this. I engage students and give young writers opportunities. And I try not to say no to any opportunity.”
Read more at www.newyorktrendnyc.com
Contact: Alice Doyle or Mike Donahue