Prolific Reporter Is Joining The Asbury Park Press
Dustin Racioppi is taking his considerable talent to The Asbury Park Press. Hopefully the creative and entrepreneurial scribe will not be stifled by the suits at Gannett.
“Hopefully I won’t become a “Nudnik'”, said Dustin when confirming his move.
In his two years at RedBankGreen Dustin demonstrated an enviable ability to report local events from car accidents to council meetings with a compelling flair that kept readers coming back for more. He contributed mightly to the impressive growth of RBG and to the emergence of the “hyber-local” news business that the corporate media giants are now unwittingly attempting to homogenize.
Focus is a key to Dustin’s success. He lived and breathed his beat of Red Bank, Fair Haven, Rumson and Middletown. Last year while preparing to cover Congressman Frank Pallone’s office hours in Long Branch, I reached out to Dustin to see if he was going to cover it. “Long Branch is Jupiter to us,” was his response.
I was surprised when I first heard that Dustin was leaving RBG. While preparing to move MMM to this domain from the old blogspot site I sent a feeler out to Dustin about joining me. “I love working for John Ward,” was his immediate response. That was obvious from the quality of his work.
And Ward, owner/publisher of RBG, obviously loved having Dustin work for him. In an “Help Wanted” ad for reporters on RBG, Ward says:
We’re interested in teaming up with people who can quickly gather information and shape it into brief stories that are factually solid and fair, yet more than mere stenography. A distinctive and confident writer’s voice, or a desire to develop one, is a must. So is a broad range of interests, from the arts to public policy to business. The ability to take a decent photograph is a big plus. Wannabes, whiners and prima donnas: please don’t waste our time. We’re interested in working only with those who demonstrate entrepreneurial energy and focus on what needs to be done. Yeah, they sound boring, but they’re the most fun to be around. And we do have fun here.
In other words, John is looking to clone Dustin. Not an easy person to find, as I have learned over the last year. If you’re out there and love politics more than sprinkling fire hydrants or fireworks shows, call me first, or last.
Dustin’s move comes at a difficult time for RBG as it faces competition for advertising dollars from the patch.com sites and perhaps The Two River Times. Two weeks ago, Dan Jacobson reported in the triCityNews that TRT’s new publisher Ellen McCarthy was planning to convert the weekly paper’s website to an active news site with daily updates. If McCarthy has started doing so, I haven’t noticed. It’s probably still in the planning stages. Diane Gooch is still listed as publisher on the TRT site, an indication that they haven’t gotten to working on the website yet.
MMM wishes the best for Dustin at APP, and for Ward and RBG. While we’re at it, we wish the best for McCarthy and TRT and we pray the Neptune Nudniks learn from Dustin rather than trying to train him into a dead tree scribe. The more quality sources of local information available the better for all of us in this Internet age. I’m pretty sure Ward knows that. Maybe the Nudni’s are beginning to figure that out, but probably not. Jacobson doesn’t care. Only Dan knows how to make dead trees sing.
We don’t wish Patch well so much. We’d love them if they put out a consistently quality product, but that’s difficult if not impossible to do with part-time writers working for an extra $50-$100 per week. In the mean time they’re only mucking up the revenue side of the business. Patch’s only hope long term is for AOL/Ariann Huffington to pay Ward, Jacobson or me hundreds of millions of dollars and then leave us alone to do what we want to do.
Not likely to happen.