Friday, September 10, will be the last day of Bklyner. Or at least Bklyner as we know it.
For the last almost 10 years, the team here has been bringing you local news, updates, features, investigations, and profiles. We have hit ‘publish’ more than 50,000 times on the work of dozens of staff reporters and hundreds of young journalists. We have shared opinions of neighbors and elected officials. We’ve helped fix leaking roofs, raised awareness of questionable evictions, dangerous intersections, and decrepit playgrounds. We’ve written about the past, the present, and the plans for the future of the best borough.
We’ve covered shootings and crashes and way too many deaths of neighbors, and looked at what can be changed. We’ve covered fights over rezonings, new bus lanes, and new bike lanes, countless community board meetings, and hearings that went on for hours, sometimes 6+ hours (Gowanus Rezoning and Downtown Jail, looking at you). We’ve listened to way too many Zoom calls on school reopening and press conferences on COVID, happy to bring news to at times almost half a million Brooklynites a month, eager to know what's going on.
We’ve sifted through data, and tried to make sense of what’s happening in Brooklyn for all of us, all while hopefully showing you how we all can make it better through the little things — advocacy, community fridges, purple pantries, picking up trash, mutual aid, music on porches and rooftops, being there for each other, watching out for each other. We’ve profiled neighbors of all walks of life making a difference, local businesses opening and closing, and some making it to celebrate 50 or 75 years in business. We've introduced you to local artists and musicians. Hopefully, we have helped you make more informed choices in voting for your next elected representative and judge.
What I hope has made us stand out is our ❤️ heart, and that we make no secret of how much we care — to make a difference, to have an impact through our work.
I could not be more proud of the work by an outstanding crew of incredible reporters over the years — Billy Richling, Zainab Iqbal, Kadia Goba, Pamela Wong, Megan McGibney, Todd Maisel, Sarah Crean, Carly Miller, Rachel Silberstein, Anna Gustafson, Rachel Barron, Heather Chin, Alex Ellefson, Donny Levit, Irina Groushevaia being just some of them. No one cared more than Mary Bakija and Ned Berke about serving our neighborhoods. Avi Glickstein, Jole Carliner, Maria Newsom, Amber Ceffalio kept us grounded. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to edit and publish the work of amazing freelance writers and reporters, and to work on the first pieces of journalism students from CUNY and elsewhere. I sincerely hope Mukta Ahmad, Salma Elazab, Adrian Childress, and Ellie Plass don’t give up on a future in journalism. And I hope Bklyn Sounds lives on.
I arrived in Brooklyn, USA, in 2002 not knowing anything about it. In the almost 20 years since, I’ve learned more about the borough and its people — the best of people — than I could ever have hoped to. I’ve learned about how the city works — and does not — and how we can try to fix it, together. I’ve learned where to get the best cannoli and jerk chicken and Lagman noodles, and how to dig up obscure Department of Education and Department of Health records. I’ve learned that Brooklyn people can be deeply kind and generous with total strangers, and always step up when it is truly needed.
I have also learned that people do not, generally, pay for news.
This makes being in the business of news really hard - Liliya Bomme and Dina Rabiner know that first hand. Especially, if you believe in always paying for work, be it reporting, writing, editing, or publishing, and live on what you bring in.
I’m incredibly grateful to those of you who have been paying subscribers - you kept us going when all the ads dried up at the beginning of the pandemic. To Charter Spectrum News, whose licensing of some of our stories made a huge difference in what we could do this year and last. To the Mayor’s Office For Media and Entertainment, whose ads you saw last year.
I’m also grateful to Ava Lubell of the Cornell Law School's First Amendment Clinic, and indirectly to the Revson Foundation who fund their work, which has for us included credible threats to sue the city and state agencies when they do not respond to our requests under the Freedom of Information law in a timely manner (resulting in treasure troves of data), as well as advice on complicated stories and training of reporters.
There have been better times and worse times, but through it all, I have been incredibly fortunate that my husband’s job pays enough to keep the roof over our heads allowing me to try to make Bklyner the best it could be, while trying to make it sustainable. He’s been most patient with my promises of drawing a regular salary, one day.
These last two years, however, have been particularly brutal in local news. Not just money-wise. Covering and trying to make sense of deaths, uncertainty, worry, pain, anger, all exacerbated by COVID, day in and day out, is traumatizing. If on top of that, one has a number of kids at different NYC public Zoom schools, elderly parents in a foreign country, and a few pets to take care of … well, we, reporters and editors, are also only human.
Frankly, I am burned out, and the vacation I sort of managed to take a few weeks back just showed me how badly I need time off after 10 years. News, however, demands one be 100% present.
Since I never figured out how to get paid regularly for the many hats I still wear (assigning, fact-checking, editing, reporting, writing, copy-editing, publishing, social media, tech, subscriptions, ad sales/reporting, payroll, and contracts), I cannot hire someone to fill in while I take the time off that I need to make sure that I, too, can be sustainable, and be the kind of person my incredible, ever-supportive husband and kids, as well as Bklyner’s exacting readers and staff, need and deserve.
So it is with great sadness that I let you know that Bklyner will stop publishing on September 10, with no immediate date or plans for resuming.
All of the paid subscriptions will be paused. Should you wish to receive a refund on your annual paid subscription instead, please let me know by emailing Liena@bklyner.com and I will do my best to refund as quickly as I can.
Until then, Billy, Megan, Piotr, and I will try to wrap up the stories we’ve been working on, and it breaks my heart to know we won't get to finish them all. The archives will remain online, and who knows — a day may come when I will open my laptop and send the 35,000+ of you a newsletter that Bklyner is back again. I certainly hope so.
Thank you so much for reading, subscribing, and supporting us over the years.