It’s a turn of phrase that’s been over-employed in farewell talks and graduation speeches, but today really, honestly is both an end and a new beginning for City Limits. After 36 years, we’re formally announcing that we have ceased printing our magazine. We are also very excited to report that we’ve acquired the Bronx News Network, a vital hyperlocal resource launched by Mosholu Preservation Corporation in 2008, and will relaunch it by year’s end to provide critical investigative and public service reporting on that borough.
The two events are not unrelated. Under the creative direction of Anthony Smyrski, with terrific photos by Marc Fader and Adi Talwar, and thanks to outstanding reporting by a long list of contributors, our print magazine has excelled both in appearance and content—leading to 17 major awards in the past two years. But most of those who read our magazine investigations (about the Harlem Children’s Zone, sexual abuse in prisons, small businesses, government contractors and others) come to them via our website, not the print product. As a small, nonprofit media operation, we’ve got to devote our money and attention to where they’ll best support our mission of informing New Yorkers. And right now, especially with our growing Brooklyn Bureau and now the new Bronx News Network project, the right place for those resources is online.
This does not signal any move away from our devotion to long-form, policy-focused investigative reporting, or to the kind of high-quality design and photojournalism for which City Limits magazine became known. Our June investigation of stop-and-frisk in East New York and August package of stories about the gun industry are down-payments on our commitment to in-depth reporting. And we’re in the process of tweaking our web designs to better feature photo and graphic elements online. Our plan is simply to deliver the same journalism to the broader audience that the Web provides—and to extend that work in Brooklyn and the Bronx.
In an era when many media entities are contracting, it’s exciting to be expanding our reach. But an end that comes attached to a new beginning is still an end, and saying goodbye to our print title has not been easy.
City Limits magazine began as a mimeographed, stapled newsletter for community advocates in the midst of the city’s fiscal crisis and grew into an independent magazine that covered a range of issues affecting neighborhoods beyond the mainstream media’s typical view. A long line of hard-working, talented reporters and editors in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s earned City Limits magazine a reputation for journalistic integrity and moral commitment, while publishers, board members and funders pulled off financial miracles to keep it running.
For those of us on staff, the connection can be very personal. The magazine became my obsession in 2007 at a crossroads in my career. It actually turns out City Limits was launched a couple days after my birth in 1976. And I still remember my parents coming back to suburbia from a trip to the city in 1992, when I was 16, and placing a copy of “this cool magazine, City Limits” on my lap. The cover story that month was about the debate over how to improve freight rail service through the city—proof that, while a lot has changed in the 20 years since, there are still plenty of stories City Limits is uniquely positioned to tell.
We hope you’ll help us to find and tell those stories, by continuing to send in your ideas, comments, criticisms and, if you can, your financial support. Thanks for being part of our history and our new beginning.