The BQ Brew: Artisan Journalism for the East Boroughs

Starting a media outlet in New York City, the most media-saturated market in the world, has to be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences available.

And yet we’re excited.

We’re excited because we see a lot of important media work that needs to be done in our communities.

If there’s ever been a modern symbol of simultaneous urban magic and misery, prosperity and inequity, well-conceived hope and unforeseen despair, then surely New York City is that symbol.

If you need proof of this unfolding epic, go check out your corner store being priced out, check out the working families on your block living in overcrowded housing because developers want to extort rent prices as high as possible, check out the co-op owners and small property holders being milked so that Wall Street and the major developers can continue to profit off the city without chipping in for its expenses, check out the pandemic of stop and frisk practices that often serve the “public management” needs of the real estate moguls who keep decimating our city.

In the East Boroughs, Brooklyn and Queens, we are too often relegated to second class status, not just politically and economically, but also culturally, by a media corps often warped by the influence of what too tellingly is referred to as “The City”–in reality, just another borough, Manhattan.

With all the violence of Superstorm Sandy and all the subtlety of ULURP processes dominated by developers (and the legally-untouchable Wall Street tycoons behind them), we are sometimes reminded that unless we ourselves build up the structures to help each other survive and prosper, we’ll get left behind, or worse, by other folks who have themselves built up the structures they need to get what they want from our communities. If you think that makes us political, perhaps we should re-examine what makes us human.

Service Journalism for Survival
So this paper is a little bit of a hope, a gamble and protest against giving the city over to the big interests that now seem to get their way in every facet of our lives. It’s a hope that the small businesses that are responsible for most of the job growth and innovation in this city are sick of pretending they’re playing in a free market when the big guys get all the perks and the small guys get the tax bill.

It’s a gamble that us as over four and a half million people, a population larger than half of the states in America can boast, are getting hungry for critical, analytical local journalism that goes beyond who got shot, who got arrested and which politician shook the most hands.

But to be frank, it’s also an admission. How could any media outlet hope to drill into the actual trends behind community issues while depending on the good graces of the most dangerous corporate players?

So, even if we didn’t love our communities (which we do), even if we weren’t tired of seeing our local papers bought up by some distant billionaire for who-knows-what corporate motive (which we are)–even if that were the case, which it’s not, even then, for our readership, and quite mathematically speaking our survival, we’re depending on you.

And that’s fine, because we’ve always depended on you. That’s kind of how community works.

4.7 Million Motivations

For as long as we’re around, we hope to bring you artisan-level journalism crafted around the issues and trends that impact the 4.7 million residents living in Brooklyn and Queens, a part of the city distinctly more flavorful, vibrant and certainly a degree less beholden to faceless corporate interests.
You’ll find our paper on every single campus in these two boroughs, as well at over 300 barber shops, diners, doctors offices, cafes, libraries and any old place we’ve discovered that people get together to talk community.

With critical analysis, we’ll be taking you far deeper behind the issues and trends that matter to your life. We’ll get behind the surface to discover the points of consequence and impact: whether we’re examining the rise of formerly invisible workers (especially fast food workers), talking about Sandy recovery three months later,  taking on the nitty-gritty of co-op self management, discussing the hundreds of thousands of lives that hang in the balance with the medical marijuana question,  or examining the forces behind the attrition of health care services in Queens and Brooklyn (next issue).

We’re populists at heart and we put people over politics any day of the week. Policies don’t experience pain, don’t starve for food, don’t shiver in unheated housing and stay up late juggling bills. People, and quite a few of them, do.

Our focus is artisan journalism that forces eye-contact with not only the people behind the stories, but the forces shaping the communities they live in. In a city where the consequential is often brushed aside for the immediate, we want to pause and show that life for 4.7 million East Borough residents is more than just a sequence of incidents–there is consequence, cause and meaning. Our lives are inextricably connected not only to each other, but the larger story of economics, politics, culture and community.

We hope to bring you that story, your story, in the months and years to come. We’ll also do our best to stay away from bad businesses, whether in our professional dealings or in our advertising. We accept no chain store advertising, we accept no advertising from the entitled gangs of developers wrecking through our boroughs, and we engage in a good-faith process to ensure that our advertisers are treating their own customers and employees with fairness and a little dignity. We won’t always get it right, but we’ll try.

This city is going to keep changing. It’s the nature of cities and human development. How our city and our boroughs change is, in many ways, not only the scope of our paper, but the very stuff of our daily lives. Here at the BQ Brew, we’re a couple of folks (with over 60 years combined local journalism experience) who want to make sure that the story of the future isn’t told by those who could afford the loudest amplifiers.

We built this paper to tell your stories in the depth they deserve. You make our boroughs jump with culture, innovation, challenges and a million invisible daily struggles. Whether professional, middle or working class, your voice and the challenges in your life matter, if not to the corporate media that neglects us, then certainly to your community. This paper, as a member of your community, is honored to be fighting by your side.

Thank you for your readership. Time and attention are a high-demand resource in the lives of New Yorkers, so we appreciate the moments you spend to learn a little more about the communities in which you live.

We’re here in the trenches of daily life with you. And we’re listening.

One Love, One Struggle,
Manny Jalonschi
Managing Editor

Brooklyn and Queens bring the world together and we’re proud to bring you the critical analysis to help you discover the East Boroughs. (Photo: Wally Gobetz/Flickr/CC)

Brooklyn and Queens bring the world together and we’re proud to bring you the critical analysis to help you discover the East Boroughs. (Photo: Wally Gobetz/Flickr/CC)