Long Island Press Legends Remembered

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In the two centuries since this newspaper was founded, the bylines of more writers than we can count have appeared in its pages — but some big names may surprise modern readers.

The byline of Washington Irving, best known for writing Halloween classic The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, has appeared in early iterations of the publication before he died in 1859. Beloved late Long Island columnist Ed Lowe wrote for the Press for a time in the early 2000s. And Jimmy Breslin, the late Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, got his first job in the newspaper industry at age 14 as a copy boy at the Long Island Press in the 1940s.

“Newspapers were a product of nervous energy back then,” he wrote, Politico recalled. “The city rooms were filled with noise, typewriters and smoke throughout the joint. It was horrible, terrible and unhealthy. Now they have computers that can do wondrous things, and everybody sits at them and quietly bores the world.”

The Press is reflecting on those days as it marked the bicentennial of the 1821 founding of the Long Island Farmer, which later became the Long Island Press. Among the daily Press reporters still in the media today is Karl Grossman, the dean of LI print journalism, who won the coveted George Polk Award for his Press reporting on sand mine excavation, and went on to found the Press Club of Long Island, the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

“The Levon Corporation was excavating a square mile of the bluff-fronted north shore at Jamesport on the North Fork under the guise of building a deep-water port,” Grossman, who is pressing on after a half century in the business, told PCLI. “In fact, it was a huge sand mine, a massive rape of Long Island. The sand was being barged off to Connecticut to make concrete for interstate highways being built there. The scheme was stopped. The land is now a state park.”

Big names have come through this newsroom in more recent years as well. Two who’ve made an impact this year are Lauren Wolfe, a foreign correspondent who founded Women Under Siege, a project that documents and investigates gendered/sexualized violence in conflicts around the world, and Billy Jensen, an investigative journalist whose latest Unraveled podcast about the unsolved Long Island Serial Killer case inspired a New York State senator to publicly demand police release an update on the probe.

What big names may grace these pages next? Stay tuned.

Got a story about the Long Island Press that you’d like to share to help us celebrate our bicentennial? Email [email protected].

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