The first issue of the South End News hit the streets of the South End on February 15, 1980. It was put out by Skip Rosenthal, publisher, and Alison Barnet, editor, with arts and history columns and reports from various agencies. The lead stories were Viviana Munoz-Mendoza's court battle against condo conversion and the opening of the Digital plant at CrossTown.
Alison's first floor apartment at 49 East Springfield Street was the office; Skip's small kitchen table upstairs was the paper's layout facility. Skip's partner James Hoover helped with distribution.
Skip had been on the advertising and production end of gay publications, notably Gay Community News, for many years. Alison was working as a temporary legal secretary and typesetter and in her free time writing for the East Springfield Gazette, a tiny newsletter on East Springfield Street. Neither had a penny to speak of-a $5000 loan from Skip's father started the paper.
From the beginning, Officer John Sacco contributed a police report that was a masterpiece of black humor. South End Little City Hall manager Jeannette Hajjar wrote a Little City Hall Report, while senior services coordinator Frank Leupold was the idiosyncratic arts and entertainment columnist, the "South End Muse." Richie Hall, then with the Boston Redevelopment Authority and an early supporter, channeled development news our way and later found us an office. Richard O. Card of the South End Historical Society wrote a history column, and Cyndi Koebert a SEPAC (Urban Renewal advisory committee) column.
Andrew Dreyfus became editor in January 1981. Two years later, the biweekly South End News became weekly. In 1985, Skip sold the paper to James Hoover, and a year later Hoover bought Bay Windows as well. By its tenth anniversary, the South End News had a full time staff of nine, a part-time staff of eight, and was regularly publishing 20-24 pages.
-Alison Barnet, founding editor