Through the eras, The Villager has always been there

john-sutter-photoBY JOHN W. SUTTER  |  It’s been just over a year since I sold The Villager and its sister newspapers to NYC Community Media. After 25 years of publishing newspapers — I owned another Long Island group for 12 years before The Villager and Co. — I am still totally immersed in the news as a voracious reader.

To the best of my recollection, I was the ninth owner of The Villager, although there may have been another owner or two in the turbulent 1970s: Isabel and Walter Bryan (1933-41); then Isabel Bryan alone (1941-57); followed by Isabel’s sister Merle Bryan Williamson (1957-61); her son, Bill Williamson (1961-73); then Royce Rowe, Bob Trentlyon, Martin Shaer (all in the mid-’70s); Michael Armstrong (1977-91); Tom and Elizabeth Butson (1992-99), myself (1999-2012); and now Jennifer Goodstein (2012 to present).

“The paper was often a step ahead of its readership, occasionally a step behind,” as Al Amateau, one of The Villager’s great writers, neatly summed up the changing epochs and leadership of The Villager over the years. The Villager has had a colorful history and weathered many storms. It was founded in the depths of the Depression, went under at least twice, was resurrected by Tom and Elizabeth Butson, and survived 9/11, the Great Recession and Hurricane Sandy.

But it has always faithfully documented the life and pulse of our cherished neighborhoods.

Nothing made me happier when I was running The Villager than to have readers come up to me and tell me how important the paper was to them. It was particularly satisfying when people who had lived in the Village for decades would tell me that they thought they knew the Village until they started reading The Villager.

I’d like to send a special shout-out to three people: Bill Honan, Lincoln Anderson and Jerry Tallmer. Bill Honan, who edited the paper in the late 1950s, took on Camine DeSapio and the Tammany machine and went on to help Ed Koch get elected mayor. Bill, who had a distinguished career at the New York Times, put The Villager firmly on the path of hard-hitting and quality journalism.

To Lincoln Anderson, who has edited The Villager since late 1999, I cherished working with you. Lincoln has the pulse of our neighborhoods, a vast trove of sources, and a love and a passion for community journalism. I eagerly await his stories every week.

And to Jerry Tallmer, who helped found the Village Voice and has been covering the arts in our great city for over a half century, you write like an angel.

My heartfelt congratulations to The Villager on its 80th anniversary. It is our hometown paper in the big city.


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