Long Island Press sold (but keep on reading)

Endings and beginnings: Former publisher Jed Morey has sold The Long Island Press to Queens-based Schneps Communications, which is looking to grow the 14-year-old news operation.

It’s the start of another new chapter for The Long Island Press, which has been sold to a Queens-based media company.

Jed Morey, president of Syosset-based Morey Publishing LLC and now former publisher of The Long Island Press, confirmed to Innovate LI Thursday that the Press has been acquired by Bayside-based Schneps Communications, a producer of events and community-news publications and websites in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The parties finalized the agreement Wednesday – “My last day as Long Island Press publisher,” Morey told Innovate LI – with Schneps Communications President Joshua Schneps assuming the mantle as Press publisher as of Thursday.

Morey founded The Long Island Press in 2002 after purchasing the free, bi-monthly, entertainment-themed newspaper The Island Ear and renaming it after the old Long Island Daily Press, a newspaper that launched in the late 1800s as The Long Island Farmer and continued publishing until 1977.

The new Press went through various incarnations under Morey’s leadership, including the cessation of print operations in 2013 and a new focus as a daily-updated digital news site.

With Morey Publishing gaining steam primarily as a marketing and communications firm, the time was right for a change, Morey said Thursday.

“Our agency has become the tail wagging the dog, in terms of revenue,” he noted. “That’s been the real growth area for Morey Publishing over the last three years.”

With that in mind, the Morey Publishing namesake said he couldn’t imagine a better organization to take The Long Island Press baton than Schneps Communications. Morey referenced a years-long personal friendship with Joshua Schneps and cited various prior collaborations between the two firms, particularly the 2015 sale of Morey Publishing’s Best of Long Island brand to the Bayside communications company. (The BOLI brand now goes by Bethpage Best of Long Island, honoring “naming sponsor” Bethpage Federal Credit Union.)

“To really honor the Press would take a very focused and deliberate publisher who can do bigger and better things and invest their full attention,” Morey said. “In my mind, nobody is more able to do that than Josh Schneps.”

Schneps said his company – founded in 1985 by his mother, Victoria Schneps-Yunis – recognized “a great brand” in The Long Island Press and an opportunity to not only continue the brand’s “high-quality and award-winning” journalism, but to expand Schneps Communications’ already substantial Island base.

“We have a footprint on Long Island as the owners of the Bethpage Best of Long Island, which has been very successful for us and has helped us reach a lot of Long Islanders and Long Island businesses,” Schneps said.

His company, which produces some 35 annual events around the Greater New York region through its Star Network subsidiary, has also enjoyed success as the host of the annual Kings of Long Island and Long Island Power Women in Business awards/networking events – success Schneps Communications plans to build on through The Long Island Press.

“We see a lot of opportunity on Long Island,” Schneps said.

As for its news staff, it appears The Long Island Press will remain largely intact, at least for the time being. Noting a “six-week transition phase,” Morey said Press Editor in Chief Christopher Twarowski and civil liberties reporter Rashed Mian would ultimately remain with Morey Publishing – but said Morey Publishing would continue as an occasional contributor to The Long Island Press, even after the transition is complete.

Most of the other writers/editors on The Long Island Press staff, five in all, are expected to remain on board – including Press Managing Editor Timothy Bolger, who according to Morey will ascend to editor-in-chief under the Schneps Communications flag.

“Tim has been the heart and soul of the digital property, even since before we were strictly digital,” Morey noted. “He shouldered the burden of managing the website when we still had the print publication and carried it all the way through.

“He’s an old-school, work-late-into-the-night, around-the-clock journalist, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that he’s going to be the keeper of the flame.”

How brightly that journalism flame will burn, and precisely where, remain to be seen. Schneps said the plan is to “invest in the content,” and while he wouldn’t say specifically if that meant enlarging The Long Island Press news staff, he did say “we want to produce more quality content” – and even left the door open to a possible return to print publication.

“We’re certainly not ruling it out,” Schneps said. “We have a lot of ideas and we haven’t made any specific decisions.

“But we’ve had a lot of success growing our digital audience in Brooklyn and Queens, and we feel there’s a tremendous opportunity to grow readership on Long Island through the [website],” he added. “Our first focus is to build upon that.”

As for the future of Morey Publishing, Morey said it was time to “put the hammer down and continue to grow the agency,” noting specifically the strong leadership of COO Beverly Fortune and Creative Director John Sasala, who lead the agency’s 15-person staff.

“We’ve been fortunate to have 25 percent growth year-over-year on the agency side for the last three years,” Morey said. “It’s time to really focus our efforts there, and what’s really great is I’ve been able to keep most of the team intact as we proceed through this transition.”

Though his days as publisher of The Long Island Press are over, this might not be the end for Morey the newsman. He’s “laser-focused on continuing to grow the agency” and remaining mum about his future plans, but in the age of digital news, according to the kingpin communicator, there are always possibilities.

“This might be the end of Morey Publishing’s Long Island-specific journalism focus,” Morey said. “But we might not be done in the news arena just yet.”

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