by John Derr

Your community newspaper

For more than 61 years, the Chestnut Hill Local has been serving Chestnut Hill and surrounding neighborhoods by providing important news, interesting features, useable information and comprehensive coverage of events and sports that no other media outlet invests the time, energy or resources to make available to you on a regular basis. Though from time to time another newspaper or a local TV news team may be in and out of your neighborhood to do a story about a happening or a personality, we are here with you and for you every day. It’s our mission.

If you are originally from the area, chances are you grew up with the Local. You read about high school sports and may have seen your picture or photos of friends and neighbors on our pages over the years. The newspaper has arrived in your home like a faithful weekly visitor to tell you about what’s going on in your neighborhood.

If you are newer to the Chestnut Hill area, and you read this newspaper with any regularity, the Local has likely helped you to become acclimated to your surroundings and learn about events and issues that help you to better enjoy and navigate your neighborhood.

State of the Local

The Local, like many other newspapers, has faced declines in circulation over the years but not nearly as steep as other weeklies in the area. In fact, the Local has the largest paid circulation of all weekly newspapers in the Northwest Philadelphia/Eastern Montgomery County region.

I’m also pleased to report that we are likely one of the only newspapers in the entire country to produce year-over-year advertising revenue growth this past year. And unlike neighboring chain newspapers, we’ve committed to adding more content and more value to our print product and our website while remaining true to the area we serve. Over this past year, we’ve redesigned the Local, creating an entertainment section and a real estate section. We have added new features from great contributors such as Bill Wine on movies, April Lisante on food, George McNeely on architecture and Patricia Cove on interior design.

There are many strong indications that we are on a path to sustainability and even prosperity, but we certainly have not arrived at our destination yet. Despite our successes, we face the same financial hurdles that other newspapers are struggling with. In some ways our hurdles are higher because we have chosen a path less travelled. We choose to make the Local (and chestnuthilllocal.com) more useful to our readers, more productive for our advertisers and more committed to covering our community. There is no “cutting our way to prosperity.” We believe that our future lies in giving our readers more and creating a better newspaper product.

Passport to the Chestnut Hill Experience

In the spirit of giving our readers more, we worked with the CHCA on its Passport to the Chestnut Hill Experience initiative, the new membership benefit they recently announced. New and renewing members will, along with the subscription to the Local, receive a Passport booklet containing over $1,000 worth of free items and discounts from local businesses.

The Passport to the Chestnut Hill Experience will be included with every CHCA membership. The Passport contains 73 exclusive offers from local businesses, many of them free enticements, such as a free Schmitter at McNally’s, free 1/4 pound box of chocolates from Zipf’s Candies, six free cupcakes at Night Kitchen, a free pizza and beverage at Chestnut Hill Taproom, a free embroidered key chain from Threadwell, and the list goes on and on.

The Passport is an amazing collection of deals from businesses and attractions, and the goal is to help you make the most of living in this wonderful area and frequenting the unique stores, restaurants and places you may not have been to before. The total value of the offers exceeds $1,000. Additionally, the CHCA has arranged for several exclusive experiences for members only with partners such as the Morris Arboretum and Chestnut Hill College, among others. And new member-exclusive experiences will be announced throughout the year.

We’ve also committed to helping the CHCA increase membership by 1,000 over the next 12 months. Why? Because a stronger CHCA means a stronger community. Becoming a CHCA member helps to make the community stronger and helps to make your community newspaper stronger. We need you and we hope you need us.

Other ways to read the Local

Of course, if you are not a CHCA member and don’t plan to be one, you can still subscribe to the Chestnut Hill Local. Beginning in January the rate will be $55 a year for 52 weeks of the Local delivered to your home or office as well as full access to chestnuthilllocal.com. A digital-only subscription is also $55 per year.

The Chestnut Hill Local will continue to be available for sale in stores and in street boxes. The price will move to $2 as of the Jan. 2, 202, issue.

Your best bet is to become a CHCA member or renew your membership and receive the Passport and the Local while supporting community initiatives.

Closing argument

As publisher of the Chestnut Hill Local for just over a year now, I recognize the special relationship that exists between the Local and its readers. There is a fondness that exists in most people in this community for their local newspaper whether they subscribe or not and whether they read it or not. For many of you it’s been around your whole life and no matter what has come and what has gone over the years, there’s the Local still arriving in mailboxes and Weaver’s Way and Killian’s and Wawa every week. We live in a world with very few constants. It’s just the Local, Coca Cola and the Simpsons.

If you love the Local and/or you want to help maintain and expand local journalism in Northwest Philadelphia and Eastern Montgomery County, there are many ways to help us grow. Here are a few:

• Join the Chestnut Hill Community Association (after Jan. 1). You’ll support many local initiatives and receive the Local each week – and it includes more than $1,000 of free or discounted offers in the Passport to the Chestnut Hill Experience

• Subscribe to the Local. If you are not going to join the CHCA, you can still subscribe to the Local.

• If you’re already a member or a subscriber, consider gifting a membership or subscription to someone who is not. Gifting a membership is like giving someone $1,000!

• Patronize the advertisers in the Chestnut Hill Local. The Local depends on advertising revenue to survive. I would never expect businesses to advertise with us only to support our efforts. Businesses must see a return on their advertising investment. And that happens when our readers respond to their ads and visit their stores or hire their services, etc.

• Participate in the community conversation by sending in letters to the editor and sharing your views.

Last but not least, let us know how we can improve, give us ideas, or just confirm what we are doing right. Call me at 215-248-8817 or email me at john@chestnuthilllocal.com.

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