Local newspaper editor Davis Kennedy may only have one staff of reporters, but that doesn’t stop him from publishing four different community newspapers every week.
Kennedy has been the publisher and editor of the Current Newspapers for almost 13 years, and with the creation of the Foggy Bottom Current in December, he handles bringing the neighborhood news to four popular D.C. locales.
The Northwest Current was the first of the Current Newspapers and began in 1967 with two editions – one for Ward 3 and one for Ward 4 of the city. The Georgetown Current started in 1992, and the Dupont Current started in 2003. The total circulation for all four newspapers is about 55,100.
Kennedy is no newcomer to the world of journalism. He has been in the newspaper profession since after graduate school, and has been in business for himself since 1976. Kennedy has been operating the Current Newspapers since October 1993.
The hardest part of the job, Kennedy said, is organizing his business so that the papers are properly delivered each week and making sure that he has “the very best people we can find handling various jobs.” As far as the reporting, he said that his papers strive to be objective.
“It’s hard to do, but I think we do a very good job at being fair,” he said.
Kennedy said his logic for coverage in the papers is simple. Each paper’s first priority is to report news that is relevant to the specific community served, and then more general items of interest to people living in the District. In each Current, there are arts sections, student-written columns about schools and events calendars.
He added that one of the Current’s most notable accomplishments is being awarded first place for environmental reporting from the National Newspaper Association.
“We put priority on what we can do best, and I think the area we reach is highly educated,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said that since the papers are only published weekly, each paper can be staffed largely by the same personnel.
“We only have so much news for each week, so we don’t need separate staffs,” he said. “The person who covers Foggy Bottom also covers Dupont, the person who covers Chevy Chase also covers Logan Circle, and the person who covers Georgetown also covers schools.”
Vince Micone, chair of the Foggy Bottom Advisory Neighborhood Commission, a group that makes zoning recommendations to the city, said he sees the new Foggy Bottom Current as a great local news source.
“The Currents are exceptional,” he said. “The Current has an extremely positive impact. To have any newspaper that focuses on local news is a fantastic addition to the community.”
Darren Bowie, chair of the Dupont Circle ANC, said the Dupont Current, which started up in the area only a few years ago, has been successful at informing residents of local news.
Kennedy said the papers are distributed door-to-door in most areas, with bulk distributions to apartment buildings. Although each Current is free and paid for through advertisements, Kennedy said he turns a profit. The Current’s Web site emphasizes to advertisers that readers are college-educated and affluent.
“I’m not going to say how much, but we’re in the black,” he said.
Both the Foggy Bottom Current and the Dupont Current include paid advertisement newsletters from the local community associations in their pages. The Foggy Bottom Association and the Dupont Circle Citizens’ Association use their respective Currents to distribute news about their groups.
Kennedy said that because of the small amount of high school children living in both of those areas, he drops the high school sports pages in both of those editions of the Current to accommodate the newsletters.
“It has to be clearly theirs, and not ours,” Kennedy said.
Some of the other signs that separate the newsletter from the paper include different headers, typeface, and volume numbers, Kennedy said. Also, the newsletter page also lists a separate address and editor.
Michael Malloy, editor of the Foggy Bottom Association’s newsletter, called The Foggy Bottom News, said the Foggy Bottom Current was created in part to be a mechanism of distribution for the community newsletter.
Community leaders in both Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle find their local association’s newsletters to be an asset to the community.
“I can say it’s also a good way of reaching members and non-members of the Citizen’s Association,” said Bowie, chair of the Dupont ANC.
-Katie Rooney contributed to this report.