A remarkable 60 years

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Time sure does fly when you’re on a lifelong adventure. I can’t believe it’s been 30 years since I put the finishing touches on my first issue as editor of Fra Noi. I still recall how thrilled and terrified I was.

To be honest, I was on pretty shaky ground for the leap I was about to make. All I had to stand on was a journalism degree, some freelance work and brief stints at a pair of community newspapers. But the publisher at the time saw something in me — perhaps a passion for my heritage or a drive to prove myself — and he gave me a shot.

I’ve been working at a dead run since then, but with 360 issues under my belt, the time is ripe to pause and look back.

Believe it or not, my long tenure as editor covers only half of Fra Noi’s remarkable timeline. It was launched in April 1960 as an 8.5-by-11-inch newsletter for Villa Scalabrini, a home for the elderly founded a decade earlier by the Missionaries of St. Charles.

Fra Noi quickly morphed into a tabloid newspaper, but it remained a newsletter at heart for most of its first three decades. With photographer Sam Bruno at his side, Villa founder Fr. Armando Pierini would travel the length and breadth of the community, capturing charitable moments on film and filling upcoming issues with those images.

News about the Villa and its supporters were Fra Noi’s stock in trade back then. It was a great way to raise money to build a nursing home but no way to run a newspaper dedicated to covering the entire community. I was hired to help Fra Noi fulfill that larger mission, and I’ve been at it ever since.

I’ve been asked if it ever gets boring putting out the same publication, month in and month out, for as long as I have. Not hardly.

For starters, Fra Noi isn’t the same publication. The community has grown and changed over the decades, and we’re continually adjusting our content, design and format to keep pace with those changes.

And every issue is a revelation. Articles pour in each month from some of the most talented and passionate writers in Italian America. It’s my privilege to be the first to read them and my pride to prepare them for print. I have a front-row seat to the greatest show on Earth, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

That good fortune has made me fierce in the face of adversity, and there’s been plenty of that in recent years. Every time you turn around, some industry downturn, cost increase or technological advance has put print journalism at greater risk. Then COVID-19 comes along and wreaks even more havoc.

The pandemic has evaporated event advertising and forced some of our monthly advertisers to scale back their commitments. All that being said, we’ve come too far to let a miserable little virus get the better of us. We’ll weather this storm as we have all previous ones. Truth be told, though, we could use a little help until the skies clear.

To contribute to our appeal via Paypal, click here.

To donate via check, click her for a downloadable PDF.

Times may be particularly tough right now, but just knowing that our readers will always have our backs fills me with optimism as I take stock of the past and look to the future.

Sixty years? That isn’t even close to retirement age. What do you say we shoot for 70?

The above appears in the October 2020 issue of the print version of Fra Noi. Our gorgeous, monthly magazine contains a veritable feast of news and views, profiles and features, entertainment and culture. To subscribe, click here.

About Paul Basile

Paul Basile has been the editor of Fra Noi for a quarter of a century. Over that period, he and his dedicated family of staff members and correspondents have transformed a quaint little community newspaper into a gorgeous glossy magazine that is read and admired across the nation. They also maintain a cluster of national and local websites and are helping other major metropolitan areas launch their own versions of Fra Noi.

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One comment

  1. Keep up the good work. Love the magazine.

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