Don’t call it a comeback, it’s been here for years: The Valley Advocate returns to weekly schedule

  • Copies of the Valley Advocate, including the first issue, "Vol. I / No.1 / Through September 19, 1973". —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Valley Advocate first issue, "Vol. I / No.1 / Through September 19, 1973". —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Copies of the Valley Advocate. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Copies of the Valley Advocate. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Copies of the Valley Advocate, including the first issue, "Vol. I / No.1 / Through September 19, 1973". —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Copies of the Valley Advocate. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Copies of the Valley Advocate, including the first issue, "Vol. I / No.1 / Through September 19, 1973". —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 1/31/2019 6:04:15 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The Valley Advocate will once again publish on a weekly schedule starting March 7, after nearly a year as a biweekly.

And along with the return of its weekly printing schedule comes the return of its previous editor, Dave Eisenstadter, who will step back into the role of editor-in-chief on Feb. 11. He will also be the editor of Preview magazine, a monthly arts and entertainment magazine, which will return on March 28.

“This is the opposite of the story you normally hear about these types of publications,” Eisenstadter said. “Pretty much across the country, you hear about not only alt-weeklies folding, but daily papers, too. This is such an exciting moment for this company and community.”

The Advocate was founded in 1973, the year that the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade and the U.S. Senate was investigating the Watergate scandal. In the weekly’s debut issue, published on Sept. 19, its mission statement read: “The Valley Advocate was called into existence by the need for an alternative to standard journalistic fare in Western Massachusetts … The Advocate seeks to provide sympathetic coverage, not lip-service, for those whose lack of establishment status denies them full access to the public arena of ideas.”

The Tribune Company purchased the Advocate in 1999, and then sold it in December 2007 to Newspapers of New England, owner of the Daily Hampshire Gazette, the Greenfield Recorder and several other regional publications.

Eisenstadter joined the Gazette as a reporter in 2014, covering higher education, Amherst public schools and the town of Hadley.

He joined the Advocate as a managing editor in April of 2017, soon stepping into the role of editor-in-chief, and working on stories about issues such as gun violence, sexual assault, and drug addiction.

In August of 2018, managers reorganized the structure of the Valley Advocate, bringing it under the umbrella of the features department of the Gazette, amid other changes. In the process, Eisenstadter became a swing editor at the Gazette and a member of the newspaper’s union organizing committee that led to the formation of the Pioneer Valley NewsGuild.

Chris Goudreau, who writes about arts and entertainment for the Gazette and the Advocate, has been named associate editor of the Advocate.

As alternative weeklies such as the Boston Phoenix and The Village Voice in New York have ceased publication in recent years, the return of the Advocate as a weekly makes for an “exciting and unusual story,” Eisenstadter said.

So why now?

“There is a passionate readership out there,” said Michael Moses, vice president of sales and marketing for Newspapers of New England, Massachusetts, who was hired in November of last year. He said he envisions the Advocate as a weekly go-to guide for all things arts and entertainment.

In addition to its events calendar and regular columnists, the Advocate is known for shedding light on stories that might otherwise go untold.

“We should be able to present thought-provoking points of view that, at some level, challenge institutions or the mainstream, and provide an opportunity to get folks talking about things that affect our communities,” Moses said.

Ultimately, Moses said he sees the team at the Advocate as having an “open canvas” with their approach to different stories and storytelling styles.

“My idea is that, when you are picking up the Advocate, you want something that is fun to read cover to cover,” Eisenstadter said.

Returning to publishing weekly gives the team more of an opportunity to “have their finger on the pulse” of the community, Eisenstadter said, adding that their website is their daily outlet.

In addition to producing Advocate Sessions, the team plans to produce podcasts, newsletters and videos.

And the popular “Best of the Valley Readers’ Poll” will continue to highlight local businesses, from art museums to pizza places, during its annual contest.

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com




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