UPFRONT: Happy Birthday, Real Estate In-Depth!

P. Gilbert Mercurio | December 23, 2015

P. Gilbert Mercurio
P. Gilbert Mercurio

With this December 2015 edition of Real Estate In-Depth we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our Realtor Association’s flagship publication. It is a most worthy successor in our Association’s long line of real estate and membership publications. How long, you ask? Try 90 years!

Over those nine decades, each and every month without exception, the Realtor organizations representing Westchester—and now Putnam, Rockland and Orange county jurisdictions as well, released a professionally prepared bulletin detailing important organizational business and the key real estate news of the day. The first such publication of the then-named Westchester County Realty Board was a magazine, simply titled “The Westchester Realtor.” It was Vol. 1 No. 1, January 15, 1926, printed on glossy paper, and it remained in that format until 1961, for a very respectable run. There followed a newspaper format, titled Westchester Realtor (no “The”), which title became Real Estate In-Depth in January 1996, 20 years ago.

When I became Executive Vice President of the Westchester County Board of Realtors in 1980 there was plenty going on to fill a newspaper, not the least of which was the installation of the organization’s first computerized multiple listing service, the centralization of chapters and other subsidiary organizations, and much else of note. There was not much available in the way of association websites or computerized servicing at that time and the Board’s newspaper was a key element in communications with the membership.

The Board commissioned long range planning exercises several times in the 1980s and 1990s, each one of which yielded a finding that the newspaper was a necessary and vital part of the organization’s communications systems. One of these exercises led to the formation of a committee in 1995 to work on modernizing the newspaper and ensuring that it met the needs of the membership. Mark Nadler was the chairman and Toni Emerson was the President.

I remember that there was a great deal of nervousness about altering the Westchester Realtor newspaper in any way, particularly its name. As it turns out, looking at all the association mergers that have occurred since then (and perhaps those yet to become), replacing Westchester Realtor with Real Estate In-Depth was exactly the right thing to do, representing better focus on regional trends and developments, attracting a larger, supportive advertising base, and signaling in its very name—In-Depth—that news coverage of real estate would be thorough. There was also a comprehensive redesign of the publication.

We were particularly fortunate to have selected Editor John Jordan to help with the remake, and as you know, he is Editor still today and I hope for a long time to come. He is also an ace reporter, and in my opinion the very best this region has to offer. Who else could have such good instincts and sources so as to actually have the monthly Real Estate In-Depth scoop the daily papers—even web reporters, which he has done more than a few times. I also would like to acknowledge Bart D’Andrea of Meadow Art & Design, the paper’s longtime graphic designer, who has ably managed all the design changes over the years, both his original work and integrating work by others into the product such as the new look of this and the prior edition; I am sure more tweaking will continue.

I am very aware of the tensions between printed and Internet news and membership communications systems. I don’t think they have to be competitors; they should be complimentary. But, I do admit that I am a partisan for the printed page most of the time. When I’m in a hurry for information I go to the Internet; when I want a relaxed, thoughtful read of real estate news, I look to the printed page. No scrolling, no sore neck, no screen adjustments needed. Best of all, in a newspaper, there’s the serendipitous experience of encountering interesting news you might not have been seeking.

My only complaint about Real Estate In-Depth is that it has no comic strip or cartoon or even a puzzle, which is very appropriate for newspapers. If you agree, talk to the management—which I am not. In the meantime, after you’ve quick-scanned this edition for photos or possibly for your name therein, take it home for a slower read and appreciate the fact that the product in your hands is part of an unbroken 20-year (90 years if you wish) tradition of excellence in membership publications.

 

 

P. Gilbert Mercurio
CEO (Retired), Westchester Putnam Association of Realtors, Inc.