Soon Flying Kite
will be landing in the Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood of Kingsessing for our On the Ground
program, and we’re starting things off by connecting with a publication that’s been on the ground there for a long time: since 1946, to be exact.
The Southwest Globe Times
was the inaugural publication of Joseph Bartash's Bartash Printing
(a company legacy that continues in Southwest Philly today thanks to Bartash’s son-in-law Sidney Simon and Simon’s son Michael).
From the beginning, the Globe Times
focused determinedly on disseminating good news throughout the community. It hit a peak circulation of about 30,000 homes in the 1950s. Bartash, who went on to publish several other community papers, retained the Globe Times
for the longest. He ceased publishing it in 2002 and died in 2007
at the age of 93.
"There was a two-year hiatus while various people in the community tried to start it up again," says Ted Behr, a Southwest Community Development Corporation
volunteer who manages the Globe Times
’s new incarnation. In 2004, Bartash agreed to sell the name to the CDC on the merits of "their unique characteristics as a nonprofit working within the community for its general well-being."
The paper re-appeared in 2005; to this day, Bartash is listed on the masthead as publisher emeritus. The Globe
comes out in print and online on the first and third Friday of every month.
"We characterize ourselves as the good news newspaper because we try to only publish the positive activities of people," explains Behr. Southwest Philly "has more than its share of negative [news]. We counterbalance that with stories about people and groups doing things to improve the quality of life here."
Behr is a North Jersey native who moved to Wayne in 1971 after an international career in the pharmaceutical business that also included 16 years of teaching business courses at Eastern University and Beijing University.
He’s a member of Wayne Presbyterian Church and its non-profit community service arm CityLights
, which partners with groups in Southwest Philadelphia, and that’s how he began working with Southwest CDC.
"I see my work with the paper as a calling," he says. Globe Times
stories typically focus on figures like effective block captains, "outstanding teachers," and neighborhood leaders.
Block captains are integral to the paper’s circulation: For the last four years, they’ve volunteered for door-to-door delivery of about half the paper’s print copies. Other copies are picked up by the public at locations like the ShopRite grocery store in Eastwick -- it's the paper’s largest distribution point, with over 700 copies departing the rack there.
Even in 2016, a hyperlocal print paper is important, argues Behr. When the newspaper re-launched a decade ago, fewer than 15 percent of Southwest Philly homes had internet access. Today, he estimates that percentage has doubled, but there’s still a massive digital divide for many residents.
Southwest CDC is currently working with the 12th Police District and the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee
to increase circulation and delivery of the paper. The publication is partly supported by ads from local businesses, but still operates at a loss of about 20 percent a year, a gap that donors at Wayne Presbyterian fill.
"We like to feel that our readers take ownership of ideas behind the paper," says Behr. "There are good people working in Southwest Philadelphia to make the community better. Dedicated public servants; dedicated people from block to block. We feel that’s what life is all about… We believe that our young people and our elderly people need a positive vision for the future."
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Ted Behr, the Southwest Globe Times
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On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.