The following piece, printed under the title “Holy Mackerel!! A New Newspaper,” appeared in the November, 1984, U.S. 1:
The newest presence on U.S. 1 neither owns nor rents space and, thus far, promises to make itself visible only once a month. The entity in question is the new newspaper, U.S. 1, which presented its “sneak preview” edition to readers this month and which will launch its gala premiere issue in December. We sent one of our crack interviewers out to question the new publication’s founder and editor, Richard K. Rein.
What readers do you hope to serve by this publication?
Everybody who works and lives on Route 1 from Quakerbridge Road to Deans Road — that’s a stretch of about eight miles or so. We’ll also go in from the highway to catch the offices on Alexander Road, for example, and on Princeton Pike near 295.
But how will you deliver it?
I have one friend who wants to rent out a black stretch limousine; another insists that we ride bicycles and throw the copies out of a big canvas bag. I always thought we’d just drive around in a car.
Seriously, will you sell subscriptions or what?
No, we’ll give it away free. The idea is to leave copies at the corporate offices, the hotels, and the restaurants, as well as at the housing developments that are just beginning to surface along the highway. I’m hoping that, as companies and their people realize this paper can serve an important role in their community, they will help get the paper inside the buildings, into their company’s cafeterias, and even onto people’s desks.
Do you really believe there is a community out on Route 1 that is deserving of a paper?
You bet, but you would never know it from reading the other area newspapers. To hear them tell it, Route 1 is nothing but a massive traffic jam, a big headache that somehow has to be handled by the adjoining communities,. In this sense Route 1 has become a colossal failure in corporate public relations. All these companies decide to spend millions of dollars to move their top people down to Princeton, New Jersey, and then they arrive here and find out that people lump them in with Toms River. You’d think that all these people ever do is sit in traffic jams.
How will you be different?
For one thing we will be the first publications around here to treat Route 1 as a community of intriguing and deserving people, rather than simply as a problem. I was over there the other day and ran into two or three people who struck me immediately as people who should be interviewed in this space — certainly far more deserving than I.
What kind of market study did you undertake?
I had Young & Rubicam in first — their people did a thorough market analysis, demographics,, development projections, the whole bit. Then I paid a small fortune for a design work-up. This is a classy crowd out on Route 1 and you can’t just throw anything at them. The design people came up with the graphics you see in these pages. They’re not perfect, but they’re damn good. I’d say a couple of more run-throughs at the ad agency and we’ll have it.
Must have cost a fortune.
I hope you know I’m kidding. The fact is that I just got the idea and went with it. Somebody could spend a lifetime trying to figure out how many people are working out on Route 1 and by the time the survey was done it would be out of date. I think of how Henry Luce started Time magazine. He and his college roommate just got the idea and went to some bank in Cleveland, as I recall, and started printing. Fifty years later the corporate types at Time Inc. spent a small fortune agonizing over whether or not to launch TV-Cable Week/ They finally went ahead and it went belly up in six months or so. That’s planning for you.
So how are you financing your venture?
Well, there’s this bank in Cleveland.
Do you worry about failure?
I’ve given it some thought. In the first most new newspapers, particularly free circulation ones (I call them that now instead of throwaways), are aimed at residential areas. The advertising support comes mainly from the retailers serving that area. Here we’re going after readers at their place of work. Our women readers are more likely to be like the company president featured in the article on dancing in this issue. You can bet she doesn’t sit around all day thinking about how she can clip coupons to save 40 cents at the supermarket.
Then I look at the example of the one publication that night have been similar in concept to what I’m trying to do. That was Princeton magazine and it assumed the same position as TV-Cable Week.
What makes you think you’re different?
First I don’t intend to drain the bank of Cleveland with fancy, four-color production on shiny stock. As you can see, this “sneak preview” edition is modest. Among other things it gives the readers a chance to respond and me to get a feeling for what they really want, instead of trying to jam some artsy photographs of scenic beauty down their throats.
Also recall that I am first and foremost a journalist — started 19 years ago with the Binghamton Evening Press in Upstate New York, worked on the college paper at Princeton, went to Time magazine for a spell, and have been freelancing in Princeton for the past 12 years. The work I have done for publications like People and Money (more Time Inc. Influence) has given me some appreciation of what’s demanded of a magazine. At the same time I have had the chance to contribute to one of the finest community papers around, the Town Topics in Princeton.
What we’re doing here might end up being a hybrid of those three publications. In any case it will be a serious journalistic venture first. Only time will tell if it ends up as a medium that advertisers crave.
What stories do you envision?
Business news. Strategies for career development. Stories on people who have made it and others who haven’t. Also stories for newcomers, giving them an idea of where to go for services and entertainment. People who get rooted into their community, with kids and so on, may always want their hometown paper. But a lot of readers, I suspect, just aren’t going to take the time to engage their brains in the pursuit of sewers, schools, and Mount Laurel.
How do you intend to gather all this news?
Part of being an editor is having all sorts of people bombard you with ideas, 90 percent of which are crazy. I hope we can have regular sessions out at the Hyatt or Scanticon, and bring some people together. That sounds crazy itself, but I’m not kidding.