Lansing's New Citizens Press celebrating ten years
By Scott Pohl, WKAR News
LANSING, MI –
The New Citizens Press, a newspaper targeting Lansing's minority and immigrant community, will celebrate its tenth year of circulation with an event in Old Town on Saturday.
The paper's founder and publisher is Rina Risper. She runs things out of her Lansing home.
There's a new issue of the paper every two weeks. Risper says circulation is growing to communities like Ovid-Elsie, with about 7,000 copies of each edition printed.
Risper told WKAR's Scott Pohl that she isn't a traditional journalist.
RINA RISPER: "I'm a sociology major who just so happens to own a newspaper, and you can tell that by the way that I write. Someone actually had to tell me I was a journalist, and I joined the Society of Professional Journalists and realized that I am a journalist, but just in a different way. And with the changing environment and how we are perceiving text, I was right there at a great time when I started the newspaper. I think that over the last ten years, I've established myself as a pretty down to earth person, a person who loves her community, loves her state, and I plan on being here for a very, very, very long time."
SCOTT POHL: "Why the name New Citizens Press?"
RISPER: "You know, that's an interesting story. I really had to think about what I was going to name a newspaper, and I thought to myself, I really have to sleep on it. And while I was sleeping, I actually had a dream, and the New Citizens Press came to me in a dream. That's a true story, and our motto is Changing the Mindset in the NU Millennium, and that's NU. NU is a slang term for changing for the better."
POHL: ""That almost sounds like something of a mission statement then, that you were trying to fill that niche. Is there something to that, or is there a mission statement that I should know about?"
RISPER: "Well, our mission statement basically is to change the mindset, to make people understand that we're really not that much different from one another. I mean, if you put together ideas, does it really make a difference if that idea has a brown face on it, a red face, or a white face, if we're talking about our hearts? Just give us what the differences are, but don't make it such a wide difference. We all are people, period."
POHL: "So when you first started, you must have seen a niche that wasn't being filled in the market in Lansing. Can you tell me more about that?"
RISPER: "Well, personally, I felt that the niche that was not being filled was not so much an African-American niche, but a diversity niche, period. And that niche in diversity also includes our refugee population. Not only does it include our refugee population, but it includes the refugees who are biracial, the refugees who have African-American parents, and Vietnamese parents, or those refugees that come over from Iraq, trying to make people understand how we can work better together, and I think that that's been one of the things that people have really enjoyed about the New Citizens Press is the diversity, and that you can actually learn something from it."
POHL: "You know, big city newspapers are seeing circulation declining, papers close, papers merge, print versions anyway. So, I want to ask you about how readership of newspapers is transitioning to the web, and whether you're thinking about that already, moving the ball to some extent maybe, to getting readership onto your website as opposed to the print edition."
RISPER: "We are on the web, which is a given. We are considering having a web radio show to compliment the newspaper. But, I tell you what: there is nothing like the mother who sees her child in the newspaper. She's the one picking it up, mailing it all over the country, so the United States Postal Service is so happy with me for continuing having a print edition!"
POHL: "You love what you do, don't you?"
RISPER: "I love what I do. I really love what I do!"