Although some people lament that printed newspapers are taking their final curtain call, the town of Livingston Manor is proving those gloom-and-doomers wrong. Young people who frequent the Livingston Manor Free Library are bringing news to the community through an eight-page monthly publication called Manor Ink.
The idea was born after both the community and the high school papers folded, leaving the town with no local newspapers at all. But it wasn’t until an innovative mom suggested forming a youth paper that the gap was filled. “The initial inspiration came from a local parent when the library was searching for ways we could improve our services to the community,” explains Library Director Peggy Johansen. So the library, in conjunction with the nonprofit Community Reporting Alliance, launched the paper. Manor Ink now fulfills the double objective of reviving the area’s news reporting and providing an after-school activity for kids who may not be involved in sports.
At weekly meetings, roughly 16 young people — ranging in age from 12 to 17 — plan and assemble each month’s issue. Under the direction of a few adult mentors, the budding journalists engage in every step of the publishing process: pitching story ideas, conducting research, writing articles, and designing layouts. “They all share each job, whether it’s photography, writing, interviewing, or selling ads. They’re learning the business and gaining skills they might eventually use in employment,” says Johansen. Gem Helper, one of the teen editors, recalls that a member of the young staff even came up with the publication’s title — pairing a part of the town’s name with the word “ink” to symbolize their printed stories. “But at first people thought we named it after a tattoo place,” she remembers.
Divided into four departments — news, arts and entertainment, events, and reviews — Manor Ink is geared toward the general populace, not just teenagers. “The kids write knowing that adults will be reading their articles,” Johansen says. “Of course the video game reviews are aimed at a younger audience, but in general the more informative pieces are for all.”
The June inaugural issue was distributed for free; subsequent issues are available for 25 cents at the library and other Main Street locations. “The positive response is overwhelming,” says Johansen. “People are thrilled to have a community paper again and that teens are doing it.”