TAPinto.net CEO and Publisher Michael Shapiro has announced that Mark Di Ionno has joined TAPinto as a columnist with his first piece. Di Ionno, who wrote for the Star Ledger, is a Pulitzer Prize finalist for commentary and author of five acclaimed books including his latest novel, “Gods of Wood and Stone”.

“We’re excited to welcome a writer of Mark’s caliber to the TAPinto family,” said Shapiro. “His column will bolster the engaging local news and content our TAPinto franchisees are creating in communities across New Jersey,” continued Shapiro.

Local news coverage has been decreasing as traditional papers close up shop or consolidate. TAPinto has been filling the void, having expanded to 80 sites in five states reaching over 8 million readers.

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Di Ionno spoke of the important role local news fills in communities.

"Local news is about the heartbeat and texture of our communities," he said. "Local news is what makes a media outlet relevant. Lose that, and you lose more than readers. You lose a sense of community. You lose the First Amendment ideal that a free press is an extension of the citizenry and crucial to their right to be informed of their government's practices.”

Di Ionno continued, “I'm excited to now be associated with TAPinto, which believes local news is essential to the community, not something that should be cut in face of falling revenues. TAPinto knows something the corporate media chains forgot. To truly cover a community you need reporters, and those reporters have to be on the streets.”