Newspapers are seldom shy about writing stories concerning the problems of other newspapers. So we weren’t surprised this week, for example, to see an account in the New York Times summarizing the downsizing efforts of its New Jersey competitor, the Star Ledger of Newark.
But just to go against that flow we would like to tip our cap to the longtime publisher of the major daily newspaper in our marketplace — Richard Bilotti of the Times of Trenton. The paper announced October 25 that Bilotti, 65, is retiring after 25 years as publisher.
U.S. 1 has always been a fan of the Trenton Times — our longtime reporter Barbara Fox freelanced there for a while before joining U.S. 1, and our founder, Richard K. Rein, broke into the business with a daily paper that is remarkably close to the Times in circulation and content.
But what really impressed us was a phone call we received in the first year of our existence, back in 1984 or 1985. We had just printed a story about the circulation war between the Times and the Trentonian. The writer had warned us that Bilotti was going to object to the way in which the article interpreted the data and he told us to expect a phone call from the publisher. Back then, as a start-up, U.S. 1’s phone was also the founder’s home phone. When the phone rang at 6:40 in the morning, U.S. 1’s editor was still in a fog, but Richard Bilotti was on the job.
That passion for his work, and for journalism as a profession, has stuck with Bilotti. We saw him at a New Jersey Press Association event a few years ago, chatting with keynote speakers and former governor Tom Kean, who had just published the findings of the national 9/11 commission on terrorism. Bilotti quizzed him as thoroughly as any member of the national press corps. He may have been a publisher, running the business side of the paper, but Bilotti began his career as a reporter. Perhaps we will see his byline again in retirement. Hey Richard: If you’d like to do some reporting, give us a call — 6:40 is OK.
Last week’s cover story on the little Cape Cod on Harrison Street that got torn down to make way for a set of four-bedroom duplexes generated some interesting commentary on our website, www.princetoninfo.com. Click through to the archives section, bring up the October issues, and there you will find Barbara Fox’s account. The comments are at the very end of the article.
A sad footnote to that story: As we noted in the story, the house had formerly belonged to Daily Princetonian (and U.S. 1) production adviser Larry DuPraz and his wife of 59 years, Nora. After Larry died the house was sold and Nora moved to Massachusetts to be with her daughter and her family. No one ever told her about the fate of the family home on Harrison Street. While we thought Nora would be philosophical about the change, we nevertheless gave her daughter a heads up about our story.
But the day our paper was published, Nora DuPraz went to the hospital for treatment of a minor matter that became major. She died on Sunday, October 26. We will miss Nora and Larry far more than we will miss the old house.