By Ian Roden
Founded in 1988, the Norwood News is a non-profit newspaper distributed in northwest Bronx communities such as Norwood, Bedford Park, Fordham and University Heights. The newspaper is free and distributed bi-weekly. Residing in the Norwood section of the Bronx, the Norwood News thrives despite the declining print media environment.
Newspapers face harsh conditions in today’s media climate. The newspaper industry has been in a “tailspin” since the 2008 recession and in 2015, “the newspaper sector had perhaps the worst year since the recession and its immediate aftermath,” according to Pew Research Center.
Despite these conditions, David Cruz, the editor of the Norwood News, said they have stayed on an “even plane” since the social media boom. If anything, Cruz said they have “gained more recognition” as a newspaper.
What’s the secret to their success? Cruz said it is not necessarily thanks to their presence on the Internet. In fact, aside from posting individual articles in various Bronx affiliated Facebook groups, they do not use social media very much at all.
Instead, Cruz attributes its success and longevity to the print medium itself and to its loyal community following.
“People like the feeling of holding the paper,” said Cruz. “Sometimes when I walk down 204th street, I notice that the paper is gone in a matter of hours.”
In addition, their success is thanks to their paper’s mantra.
“Information should be free and there shouldn’t be a price on it,” said Cruz. “We’re not worried about revenue because we’re not that kind of paper.”
Moreover, the Norwood News is a community-oriented paper. It can be found in coffee shops, restaurants, corner stores and even police precincts.
“Where we place the paper is key to our presence,” said Cruz.
The goal of the Norwood News is to promote community engagement and action. In doing so, it hopes to shed light on important issues.
“We want people to go to meetings. The purpose of the paper is to create a more informed populus,” said Cruz. “We tend to start the conversation.”
One of these conversations regarded a real-estate scandal. After The Related Cos., a multi-billion dollar real estate company, bought 36 buildings in the Bronx area, residents were experiencing heat problems. February 2015 was a cold winter, and the lack of heat was such a problem that tenants were forced to come up with alternative ways of keeping themselves warm— one tenant even kept their oven on to heat their apartment.
After residents submitted complaints with no answer from The Related Cos., the Norwood News brought attention to the tenants plight. It turned out that buildings were bought, in part, using money from the New York City pension fund— developers used this money to facilitate housing developments that people were living in without heat. David Cruz said that as a result of their coverage, city officials prioritized the problem and have since fixed it.
An Iona College graduate, Cruz has had positions at News 12 the Bronx, WCBS 880 AM, and the Bronx Times Reporter. He’s been in the business for 13 years and although he worked his way up to associate producer working at WCBS 880 AM, he left to pursue his dream of being a writer. He found a haven for that dream at the Norwood News, where he has helped make the paper an Independent Press Association Award-winning news outlet for helping shed light on the Related Cos. and their buildings’ heating problem.
Furthermore, Cruz and the Norwood News want a stronger relationship with Fordham University. Just a ten-minute cab ride away from Rose Hill campus, Norwood News is run entirely by Cruz with the exception of a few freelancers. However, they offer internships and are eager to get Fordham students to apply.
“I’ve been wanting to get Fordham students in here for the longest time,” he said. “I just don’t know why it hasn’t taken off.”