Software Engineer Starts Unlikely Business: A Weekly Newspaper

The debut has touched off a modern version of an old-fashioned newspaper war, with a fledgling independent newcomer pitting itself against a community staple, printed since 1877, that has had cuts in coverage and staffing after it was bought by a major publishing company.

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The first issue of The Montclair Local.

Credit
Karsten Moran for The New York Times

The Montclair Local arrives at what some view as a potential watershed moment for journalism, as the animosity the Trump administration has directed at the news media has injected new vigor into a beleaguered industry. Major news organizations like The New York Times and The Washington Post have seen surges in subscriptions.

The new newspaper is an audacious bet that a renewed interest in journalism can trickle down to the community level. And if any place can support such an endeavor, it is Montclair.

“I don’t think I would have done it in any of the other towns I’ve lived in,” Mr. Choxi, who, with his wife, Thalla-Marie, is The Local’s publisher, said in the newspaper’s office, as his daughter played in the back room. “I feel like Montclair is a town that really does value having its people be informed and engaged.”

Montclair, a town of 37,000 people in Essex County, is a 20-mile drive from New York City, with streets lined with colonial homes set back on tidy lawns and walkable strips of small businesses. Residents brag about the absence of drive-throughs and strip malls that are fixtures elsewhere in New Jersey.

The community is known for its affluence, diversity and liberal politics, and for the large flow of commuters to jobs in newsrooms, television studios and publishing offices in New York City. (As an article published by the Poynter media website about The Local noted, paraphrasing a tweet from President…

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