Aline Reynolds – Associate Editor, Downtown Express
From suburban towns and neighborhoods to readers’ own backyards, community newspapers are publications that focus on hyperlocal news, people and events that matter to the community. What is it like when your backyard just happens to be a major focal point for the world?
“What’s unique about the beat is that I get to cover issues that have national and international dimensions; for example, the redevelopment of the World Trade Center, Occupy Wall Street and the Ground Zero mosque,” she said. “It’s really exciting because while we are a local community newspaper where the readers are downtown residential workers, we get to cover these international issues.”
Reynolds also regularly covers school overcrowding, and will continue ongoing coverage of the Zadroga Act. “This is a community that is still recovering and rebuilding post-9/11 and it’s infinitely thrilling to cover,” she said.
The Downtown Express is one of five neighborhood papers that make up Community Media, LLC. Reynolds was a general assignment reporter at the paper for two years prior to being named associate editor. She had also been a regular freelancer for various publications in New York, such as Newsday, Manhattan Media’s Dan’s Papers and The Southampton Press – Eastern Edition. Additionally, she has written for larger outlets, like global newswire Agence France Presse (AFP) and Discover magazine.
Reynolds did not get her start in the field until after she finished her undergraduate education at Barnard College. She had always been a writer and dabbled as an editor (one of her majors was comparative literature), but did not fully embark on a journalism career until later.
“After college I was working at a publishing house. Then, I delved into arts writing and did a lot of features and profiles of artists for arts papers and local papers,” she said.
Reynolds received her Master of Science from Columbia University – Graduate School of Journalism and since then, she has been “living and breathing journalism.”
“I think it ideally channels my passions of writing, interviewing and staying on top of the news as best as I can.”
Localization of a city like New York is understandably not the easiest task. Alongside this challenge for Reynolds, the Downtown Express and many other print publications are facing the integration of digital media. No matter what the generation, everyone needs to be on up-to-date and open to learn and adapt on how technology fits into one’s work, according to Reynolds.
“Even for Generation Y, which I am a member of, we didn’t really grow up fully immersed in the Internet like kids today do. As journalists, I think it means we have to have a strong grasp of social technology, stay on top of the news rigorously and disseminate it on the Web,” she explained.
Perhaps this is why Community Media decided to switch the Downtown Express to a bi-weekly schedule and saw this as the way of the future. Even though the paper is not a daily, the website is consistently updated with current news.
Downtown Express primarily uses Facebook and Twitter as social online platforms. Reynolds also mentioned that they have utilized HootSuite, a social media dashboard that allows users to manage and plan online communication.
“It’s useful because when we’re busy and on deadline trying to crank out a few stories at a time, we might not have the time to tweet out or post on Facebook a story we wrote about that morning. This way we can send out the messaging ahead of time,” she said.
Reynolds is still very cautious about how she uses social media with a couple general rules of thumb. The first is to avoid followers feeling inundated by an extreme amount of posts at a time. She makes sure not to overwhelm followers, so that they can digest what they receive.
Also, what Reynolds calls a “fine line between regular posting and compulsive posting,” there can be a mishap in inaccurate messages being sent out, particularly when other media outlets want to be first.
“You want to keep your readers informed, but you have to be careful not to do it carelessly. It’s great to post messages constantly on Facebook and Twitter, but you don’t want to introduce factual errors or typos into your [platforms] because that lessens your credibility as a media outlet,” she said.
Reynolds is open to news tips or story ideas “as long it is a Downtown-centric pitch with something that our readers would be interested in.”
She can be reached by email or phone. As always, please remember to keep in mind the audience of the Downtown Express. Reynolds insinuated that those who want to reach out to her should, at the very least, look at the website to get an idea of what the paper is about.
Follow news and updates from the Downtown Express on Twitter at @downtownexpress.
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