SOMERS, N.Y.-Halston Media continues to beat the odds.
While other newspaper companies continue to shrink or fold, Halston, the parent company of Yorktown News, continues to grow.
On March 8, Halston rolled out its fifth publication—The Katonah-Lewisboro Times, which now joins the family of four existing papers: Yorktown News, Mahopac News, North Salem News and The Somers Record.
“When people hear about papers dying, I point out that we are in a different industry than those newspapers,” said Brett Freeman, Halston Media’s publisher and co-founder. “The large regional dailies are struggling in part because they are competing with the internet in a way that we are not. You really can’t find quality local content online, except on our sites. Even our competitors chose a different business model than us. We are the only ones who produce content exclusively for each community.”
Freeman started Halston Media in July 2009 with his business partners, including Shelley Kilcoyne and his father, Ken. They launched Mahopac News the following year. In 2011, The Somers Record joined the fold and in 2012, Yorktown News made its debut.
“We took a hiatus after that for a few years where we didn’t add anything else,” Freeman said. “I think it was because I didn’t have the organization in place that I needed. I didn’t have enough people.”
Then, in 2015, North Salem News was born.
Freeman said the first eight years at the helm of Halston Media provided him with a steep learning curve.
“I started out as a journalist; I was not a businessman,” Freeman said. “I made a lot of mistakes over the past eight years, but I learned a lot. At this point, I consider myself a businessman as much as a journalist.”
Now, he says, an opportunity has presented itself to continue the company’s growth.
“One of the reasons we started this new paper is because over the years we’ve had many clients who said they would love to see our papers over in the Katonah-Lewisboro area,” he said. “When the Lewisboro Ledger folded, there was a void and there was no paper exclusively covering the Katonah-Lewisboro School District. We figured that would be our niche.”
Freeman said that when he started Halston Media, which has offices in Mahopac and Somers, it was always his intention to create multiple publications.
“With our economies of scale and investments in all our infrastructure and talented people, we are better able to serve each community, including our readers and advertisers,” Freeman said.
Like Halston’s other four papers, The Katonah-Lewisboro Times will arrive each week in people’s mailboxes for free. It will reach 5,000 mailboxes.
“I think we are getting an incredible buzz from the business community,” Freeman said. “Our editor has had wonderful meetings with the police chiefs and the school superintendent and other officials. Everybody is on board and excited. We are filling a void, so this will be an exciting venture.”
On Thursday, March 1, Freeman and the employees of Halston Media were invited to state Sen. Terrence Murphy’s office, where the senator presented them with a proclamation honoring the launch of the new paper.
“I think it’s amazing what you guys do,” Murphy told them.
The proclamation, in part, reads: “Whereas The Katonah-Lewisboro Times will certainly continue Halston Media’s excellent history of outstanding coverage of municipal and school news, sports, business, crime and fascinating profiles; now, therefore be it resolved that I, as a duly elected member of the Senate of the State of New York, on behalf of the citizens, do hereby congratulate Halston Media upon the launch of The Katonah-Lewisboro Times.”
Freeman said that he wouldn’t have been able to launch the new paper without his current staff.
“It is not easy starting or expanding a business in New York in 2018, so it’s definitely an accomplishment,” he said. “We couldn’t do this without the team we have in place. Halston Media is filled with talented people.
“One thing I discovered with a small business is you can’t really hire people who are very green,” he added. “You have to hire people who either have incredible talent with great potential and can learn quickly, or you have to hire people who have extensive experience in what they do. I feel like we have an A team in place. I am incredibly proud of this team. We have award-winning publications and we will continue to succeed.”