Sunrise at Indian Island. File photo: Peter Blasl

Another year is in the books and a new one stretches ahead of us like an open road. Where will it take us? What lies ahead, just around the next bend?

We look forward to finding out together and to providing our community with news as it happens, with stories that provide context and insight into issues of local importance.

RiverheadLOCAL celebrates its ninth anniversary this month. We were on the forefront of a digital revolution in local news — even if we didn’t quite realize it at the time. We had to actually explain to people what we were doing when they’d look at us quizzically. “It’s like a daily local newspaper online,” we’d say.

We knew there was a hunger for online local news in our community with fresh content every day and breaking news coverage as it happens. The world was moving faster and getting local news in print once a week no longer met the news consumer’s needs. As an editor and publisher of a local newspaper, I’d already spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out how print would survive the internet. This website reflects my conclusion.

I’m glad to know I was right. We took a huge risk launching this business — giving up a full-time job, with a paycheck and benefits was probably a crazy thing to do. But I have a passion for local journalism and a passion for my community. It’s rewarding to see the response. And a relief that we still have a roof over our heads!

In our first year of operation (2010), we had 263,186 visits from 85,016 users and served 734,106 pageviews. Honestly, those stats blew my mind. I was passionate, yes, but still skeptical.

In 2018 we had 2,137,268 visits from 700,277 users and 3,816,899 pageviews. (Mind still blown.)

We are a tiny operation and our ability to compete and succeed in a major metropolitan area media market like Long Island depends on a lot of hustle and hard work. Did I mention I haven’t had a whole day off yet in this decade? I still consider myself lucky to be able to do this for a living. The work is rewarding for the most part and sometimes even fun.

Of course, things have changed in the years since we launched. And you know the saying — “adapt or die.”

Facebook threatens the local news ecosystem in so many ways. It threatens to swallow it up altogether. I’m glad to see people are growing wary of this monolith in the wake of report after report about how Facebook abuses its users’ trust by selling or giving access to the data and information we naively thought belonged to us.

One of the most significant impacts Facebook has had is blurring the lines between what’s real and what’s garbage. Please, before you share a post, check into the publisher. It only takes a minute. Don’t spread fake news and rumors. 

Social media has forced change in how news is reported — pushing news organizations to move ever faster to publish a story or lose it (and thereby lose audience.) Speed can be a dangerous thing in news reporting, especially where breaking news is concerned. We try to be on top of what’s going on and reporting it as quickly and responsibly as we can — without sacrificing good journalism practices.

RiverheadLOCAL is published by a family business. My husband, Peter Blasl and I started the site. Since 2010 — the year our two daughters graduated from Riverhead High School — our kids have gone to college, graduated and come to work in the business. They grew up in local news, so in many ways, this is in their blood. They grew up in Riverhead and they, too, are passionate about the future of our town.

Our company is tiny. We have four employees besides our family members. Every member of our LOCAL family is dedicated, multitalented and smart. We all wear many hats and we all brainstorm on managing this endeavor — analyzing what works and what doesn’t and figuring out how we could do what we do better.

This website wouldn’t exist without the support of businesses and organizations who advertise with us. If you value the service RiverheadLOCAL provides please continue to support these local businesses and please let them know you appreciate their support of quality local news. There is a lot of competition for their advertising dollars. We know the ads on our website produce results for local businesses and that, in turn, makes them loyal customers. But we also know that the local businesses are owned and operated by local residents who also care about our community — and they value what we do and are proud to support it. We know this because we hear it every day.

We are grateful for their support — and your support — and, as we start a new year, we resolve to our level best to earn your trust and support each and every day.

Thank you so much.

We wish you all the best in 2019, wherever the journey on the road of life may take us. Happy New Year!

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.