2012-06-20 / Features

Reflections On 30 Years Of The Western Queens Gazette

BY NYS SENATOR GEORGE ONORATO (RETIRED)

Flashback to 1982: Gasoline was 91 cents a gallon, and the average monthly rent in the United States was $320. The first CD player was sold in Japan, and Time Magazine’s Man of the Year was “The Computer”. One of the biggest movies of the year introduced us to E.T. the Extraterrestrial, who loved Reese’s Pieces, and a native son of Queens named Cuomo was elected to the Governor’s Mansion in New York state. And the Western Queens Gazette was founded.

In the three decades since, a few things have changed. Back then, the World Wide Web would probably have been a horror movie featuring a giant spider with evil global intentions, a “mouse pad” was considered the place where Mickey and Minnie lived, “Twitter” was something the birds did in your backyard, and “Facebook” – instead of being a social media phenomenon that just went public on Wall Street – was probably your family photo album.

But some things remain the same. Thirty years later, we still have a native son of Queens named Cuomo as Governor of New York state, although this is the son of the first native son from Queens named Cuomo presiding over the Second Floor of the state Capitol in Albany. And just as importantly, we still have the Western Queens Gazette, living up to its original mission and motto: The Weekly Community Publication Dedicated to Bringing Our Readers A Vital Locally-Oriented View of the News.

Some things have changed, though, at the Gazette as well. Our local newspaper has embraced technological change through its Web site, although some of us who don’t read papers online still have the special pleasure of having the Gazette delivered to our door each week. We get to open up its pages, with that indescribable smell of newsprint, penned by the Gazette’s dedicated and incredible journalists, once known – before the advent of computerized newsrooms – as “ink-stained wretches”.

No matter whether you read the Gazette online these days, or still get it in your mailbox or at your local store, this paper exemplifies the best of journalism. It is a reflection of what is important about the First Amendment to the United States Constitution providing for a free press that is able to both honor and criticize our government. It is a reflection of our neighborhoods, as a community paper must be, not only bringing us news about politics, but about who we are. We learn about the foibles of our government, and we also learn about the church having a bake sale to feed the hungry. We read about great restaurants in our community, the work of our neighborhood groups, and we learn about the school children who have made the honor roll. We learn, above all, about Western Queens – its challenges, its victories, its changing face as one vibrant area in the most diverse borough of New York City. So many languages are spoken here. So many immigrants have made their homes here. And the Queens Gazette introduces us to them all.

But, on a personal level, I have a very deep connection to the Gazette, its history, and the wonderful people who put out this paper every week, come rain or come shine. I was first elected to the New York state senate in 1983 when the Western Queens Gazette was still a fledgling publication, and when I was chosen to serve the district previously represented by retired Judge Anthony Gazzara. The Gazette was a part of my political life from the very beginning, and I cannot begin to say how much I have enjoyed and respected having this incredible community newspaper as part of my experience as a public official and simply as a life-long resident of Western Queens.

When all is said and done, the Gazette, either as a respected representative of the Fourth Estate or as a vibrant member of our community, has never once disappointed me in 30 years. And I am sure that the Gazette will continue to carry out its unique mission in Western Queens for many years to come. Congratulations on your 30th Anniversary!

I’m still reading, and can’t wait for the next issue!

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