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Briefings: Reminding Your Business…Now in Greater Holyoke…

Reminder shining a light on Granby, Holyoke & South Hadley next. (WMassP&I)

Making good on a promise of further expansion after beginning coverage of Easthampton, The Reminder, the East Longmeadow-based weekly, has announced its next target. Soon, residents of Granby, Holyoke and South Hadley can receive their own edition of the paper. Holyoke news that had previously appeared in other Reminder Publications papers will now appear in the new edition for the Paper City and environs.

Reminder Publications, which includes The Reminder itself and publications like The Westfield News, has positioned itself as a venue for hyperlocal news and advertising. As other outlets have retrenched, The Reminder sees opportunity. The first phase, an expansion to Easthampton, began in July and included new staff. The move to Greater Holyoke will bring additional will do the same.

Managing editor G. Michael Dobbs unveiled the expansion Wednesday on WAQY’s morning show, Bax & O’Brien.

“We’re expanding again. We’re adding another edition,” Dobbs told the mischievous Rock 102 duo. Reminder Publications confirmed the news on social media, too.

“We’re taking the Holyoke news out of The Chicopee Herald,” Dobbs explained, referring to the paper The Reminder publishes for Chicopee. “We’ll beef up The Chicopee Herald with more Chicopee and Springfield news.”

Delivery to Granby, Holyoke and South Hadley will begin in November.

In 2018 Advance Local, the parent company of The Republican and Masslive, purchased The Reminder. Since the local publications became family, they have retained their identities. However, Reminder Publications’ flagship weekly now had the capacity to deliver regularly. That, in turn, bolstered advertiser confidence and revenue, which is paying for the journalism in the new zoned editions.

Reporter Danielle Eaton is expected to lead news coverage . Assistant Managing Editor Payton North will oversee the Greater Holyoke edition. Dobbs, who often covers Holyoke news now, is expected to contribute.

In a text message, Dobbs confirmed that the edition will yield a net increase in full-time staff. Eaton currently covers Agawam and West Springfield and a new hire will replace her on that beat.

The future of local news has looked grim for some time. The novel coronavirus has exacerbated and accelerated trends that have damaged local journalism, including in the 413. However, Reminder staff believe they have found a niche. Their weekly format suits both advertisers and readers.

Holyoke City Hall

More eyes–and reporter pads–aimed at Holyoke. (WMassP&I)

Despite these troubles in local news, Holyoke itself has been seeing a boomlet of local coverage in the last year. Last October, The Daily Hampshire Gazette began dedicated Paper City coverage with Dusty Christensen leading reporting there.

Also covering the city is the monthly Holyoke Sun, Turley Publications product. The Republican and its online alter-ego, Masslive, still cover Holyoke, but they principally rely on stringers after a round of buyouts in 2018. Holyoke Media, the city’s public access channel, has also been expanding programming.

Despite barely tying Westfield as Hampden County’s third-largest city, Holyoke is one of the most dynamic beats in the region. The battle for the city’s soul is a recurring and overt featur. Its mayor, Alex Morse, unsuccessfully challenged Congressman Richard Neal this year and a mayoral race looms in 2021. Along with fallout from the pandemic, the city’s scribes will have a smorgasbord of news to cover.

The added reporting in Granby and South Hadley should be welcome, too. The coronavirus presents particular challenges to both communities, given the region’s dependence on embattled the higher education sector.