This increases the Hudson Reporter's weekly circulation to 130,000 and expands its coverage area to the entire Hudson waterfront from North Bergen, Guttenberg and West New York south to Bayonne.
The Bayonne Community News was founded in 1978 by publisher Edward Kukowski and has a circulation of about 28,000. It covers all of Bayonne and sections of southern Jersey City including Country Village, Society Hill, and Franklin Park.
Kukowski aided the Hudson Reporter's founding paper, the Hoboken Reporter, in 1983.
"We've been friendly with Eddie Kukowski and the Bayonne Community News dating back to the start of the Hudson Reporter chain," said Hudson Reporter Co-Publisher Lucha Malato last week. "He had advised [the Reporter's original owner, Joe Barry] on the startup of the Hoboken paper."
"Eddie is a long-time friend, and we've had a great relationship," said Co-Publisher David Unger.
Kukowski said that when Barry founded the Hoboken paper, he agreed not to compete in Bayonne.
After it was founded in 1983, the Reporter group added the Jersey City Reporter, the Secaucus Reporter, the Weehawken Reporter, the North Bergen Reporter, the Union City Reporter the West New York Reporter. All can be found at www.hudsonreporter.com.
Unger and Malato, minority partners, bought out Barry's majority ownership of the paper in 1999 when Barry's time was consumed by the development boom. The pair continued their agreement not to infringe on the Bayonne Community News' circulation area. Kukowski had agreed to give the Hudson Reporter the first option if he ever sold the paper.
"I never planned to sell the paper," Kukowski said last week. "I always figured I would be here until I retired."
Unfortunately, Kukowski contracted a progressive disease that affected his ability to speak, walk and use one hand.
"It's just bad luck," he said.
"Eddie contacted us last fall to see if we were interested in acquiring the paper," Unger said.
The deal was closed this past Tuesday, Feb. 3, and employees of both organizations were informed that day.
"We are tremendously excited in bringing the Bayonne Community News into our family," said Malato. "The newspaper represents a tremendous area of growth, and both companies will be stronger as a result."
Over the last decade, writers for the Hudson Reporter have won statewide recognition for the quality of their reporting, including awards in both investigative and feature writing from the New Jersey Press Association and the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists. The Reporter papers are known for providing a good mix of in-depth reporting and community news.
Bayonne Community News will stay in Bayonne
Unger said changes would come slowly, but would not compromise the integrity of the Bayonne Community News.
"We understand the special role the Bayonne News plays in the community," he said. "It is truly a billboard for location information and we intend to keep it that way."
Bayonne Mayor Joseph Doria met with the Hudson Reporter publishers just after the sale was announced.
"On behalf of the city of Bayonne, I would like to welcome the Hudson Reporter newspaper group to Bayonne," Doria said. "After hearing of the sale of the Bayonne Community News, I was pleased to learn that the new owners will keep the newspaper's Bayonne office and staff."
The Bayonne Community News will continue operating out of its offices on 21st Street in Bayonne, although some operations will eventually be shifted to the Hoboken office. The paper's traditional midweek publication will coincide with the Reporter's entertainment publication, the Hudson Current, which comes out Thursdays. The other Hudson Reporter weeklies are published on Sunday.
"We intend to bring to Bayonne the Hudson Reporter's local news quality that has made our papers popular in other communities," Malato said.
Caren Lissner, the editor-in-chief of the chain who has been with the company since 1994, said, "We're excited about being able to cover all of the wonderful things going on in Bayonne, rather than having to stop at the border."
Al Sullivan, the Hudson Reporter's senior staff writer who has been with the paper for 12 years, will move from the Secaucus beat to Bayonne. Sullivan has covered Secaucus since 1992 and Hudson County government since 1999. In addition to covering Bayonne, he will continue his coverage of county government as well as his weekly political column, Between the Lines.
"I am glad that the Hudson Reporter has assigned a journalist to cover Bayonne," Doria said. "I look forward to working with the Hudson Reporter group to keep our residents well-informed." Unger said some changes will be incorporated, such as making the Bayonne Community News conform to the format used by the existing papers.
"But for several weeks, there will be no change," he said. "We need to take our time and understand the Bayonne community, and how many changes to incorporate."
Owes much to his staff
Kukowski said he owed a great deal to the staff of the newspaper for its 25 years of success, especially Renee Pavlick, Lynne Rafael, Cathy Jakubowski and Lisa Cuthbert, as well as the community that helped support the paper.
"The Bayonne Community News was always about Bayonne. That's what kept us going over the years," Kukowski said.
Malato said she admired the work Kukowski did over the years.
"He has been a friend to the Bayonne community and served the public wonderfully over the last 25 years," she said. "He will be sorely missed. Dave and I have great admiration for him and what he's accomplished." Kukowski had brought a weekly newspaper back to Bayonne at a time when the city didn't have what he called "a legitimate hometown paper."
"People flocked to us," he said. "They wanted a paper of their own, and we gave it to them."
Hudson Reporter's history
The history of the Reporter chain is similar. In 1983, Hoboken-based developer Joseph Barry was watching Hoboken rise. He decided the town needed a news-savvy paper and asked Kukowski for guidance in starting the Hoboken Reporter. Barry negotiated the purchase of the Hoboken Pictorial chain, which included the West New Yorker in West New York and other newspapers.
In 1987, Hudson Reporter started the Secaucus Reporter and papers in Jersey City, Weehawken, North Bergen, West New York, and Union City.
The Hudson Reporter also publishes a mid-week arts and entertainment paper called the Hudson Current. Its editor is Eugene Mulero.
The group also publishes Phone Hoboken, a telephone directory, the Secaucus Guidebook, a guide to Secaucus' outlets, and two statewide publications: the Gateway Guide - which details regional tourism - and All About Horses, a guide for horse-related products and services. For information about any of the Reporter's publications, call (201) 798-7800 during business hours.