BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | WestView News shall return — or so its embattled publisher hopes.
The 21-year-old monthly community newspaper was recently abruptly left in the lurch when its paid staff and many of its volunteer contributors bolted to a form a new breakaway newspaper called New WestView News.
The defectors scoff that WestView News won’t be able to survive the loss. It’s already midway through the month and the paper still has not put out a December issue.
However, George Capsis, the founder and publisher of WestView, said they have, in fact, been working on an issue and plan to have it come out on Tuesday, his birthday.
“We hope to print on Monday,” he told The Village Sun, “with a picture of me and my family on my 95th birthday. We will get out the December issue, I hope.”
Asked if his photo would be on Page 1, he said no — but then said, who knows, maybe.
Asked if Dusty Berke would continue to hold the managing editor spot moving forward, Capsis said, “You’ve asked an extremely complex question, which I cannot answer. You know, Dusty is great support for me. Dusty is a very good right hand — and sometimes she’s not only a right hand, she’s a left hand. The paper has its own demands.”
Berke, who is 35 years Capsis’s junior, said the publisher is doing O.K.
“He’s proud and he’s strong and he’s sharp,” she said. “People are underestimating him.”
However, she admitted that Capsis does need help getting around. To be safe, he uses a walker, though sometimes, she said, he can rely on “touchpoints” around the house.
“George lost the strength in his legs after he had stents put in a year ago,” she said.
Their relationship, though, is sometimes tempestuous.
Capsis said that, yes, he would ideally sue District Leader Arthur Schwartz, the senior editor of the breakaway newspaper, but that he’s concerned about the expense.
“I would like to sue him,” he said. “It costs $5,000. He’s a lawyer — he doesn’t have the expense.”
However, Berke didn’t hold back: “Arthur’s paper has to fold up and go away,” she declared. “Arthur will be lucky if George does not move to disbar him. He should just go crawl under a rock and be happy George doesn’t take his law license. A lot of people think that George should take him down.”
For his part, Schwartz has said that New WestView News is perfectly legal, but that they will tweak the design — after the first issue’s look nearly exactly mirrored WestView — and possibly the paper’s name for the next issue.
Berke claimed that advertisers that were in WestView News are confused at having appeared in the December issue of New WestView News.
“Golden Woks said, ‘I have no idea what they’re talking about,'” she said.
Meanwhile, she defended an article that ran a few months ago on Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for governor, noting, “I want to hear what the other side is thinking. People in the Village are intelligent [and can make up their own minds]. He’s not going to win.”
Berke also noted she fought to get an article by Carol Yost about women deciding to refuse hysterectomies into the paper, over the objections of the editorial and production staff, who allegedly tried to keep it out.
“It got 27 comments,” she said, proudly.
“I came here at a time when George needed help,” said Berke, who lives in Capsis’s Charles Street townhouse. “I didn’t need money. I wanted to help and I wanted to learn the newspaper business. I think those women should be ashamed of themselves,” she said of the former WestView staff that split.
“And Arthur wants the paper,” she charged. “He’s wanted it ever since I got here. … I had a two-bedroom beach house I could go to before I got here. I’m here because I believe in George. I believe in free press. And I believe we did something great.”
However, it’s no secret that Berke wants WestView, too. She previously told The Village Sun that, if she could, she would buy WestView for $100,000, put it into a trust and create a legacy foundation to operate it.
As for what will be on Page 1 of the new issue, a rumor has it there will be an article by Diane Sare, who ran on the LaRouche line versus Chuck Schumer in November, winning less than 0.5 percent of the vote. Although there are two separate newspapers — a WestView and a New WestView — it doesn’t mean there are not leaks of information back and forth.
Berke didn’t confirm the rumor, but said, “O.K., I don’t know a lot about Lyndon LaRouche. But she’s a lifelong Democrat and she’s fighting for the same things they are.”
According to LaRouche’s Feb. 2019 obituary in The New York Times, “He began his political career on the far left and ended it on the far right.”
As for Capsis, he said what would be on WestView’s Page 1 was not nailed down yet. He said that for most of the newspaper’s nearly 20 years, he decided what was going into it, but that in the last three or four years, Kim Plosia, its former managing editor, “collected the articles” that would run. Plosia is now the managing editor of New WestView.
Although Berke said she’s not set on holding onto the managing editor title, which she only first assumed in November, she’s proud of the newspaper that she put out that month.
“As soon as we get someone else,” she said, “it’ll be their name on it.”
What big/bad/notable thing happened that would make the entire staff want to defect, or think it was OK to open a rival copycat paper? There’s some big core of this story that just doesn’t make sense — or that hasn’t been shared with the public. Because just reading the surface of this “coup” in this and a former article, makes the situation sound semi-illegal and just plain low class. Who would steal something out from under a 95-year-old man?