Excuse me… 1-11

Dear Readers,

It seems very strange when you layout a newspaper and you are on the front page.  Our Unveiling Party was a very moving and an emotional time and we were happy to have shared it with over 100 supporters, inquirers and friends.  It was a huge success.

We chose to tell some of our story because people were asking. We are 8 months pregnant as you can tell from the picture on the right.

We wanted to use a pre-pregnancy picture so we scrambled to find one.  Ah ha, we were going to use a photo that we had hanging on our wall taken by a professional photographer at a party.  However, when we contacted the photographer, he wanted to charge us an astronomical amount to print it.  And, yes we did previously pay for the picture. We explained that it was for our Unveiling issue and that we were a small community newspaper with a very limited budget but to no avail. 

While sadly pondering our dilemma, I thought, we haven’t taken a picture in years.  But lo and behold, sitting on our table was the picture printed above that  was taken at the same party.  It  is a better looking picture as well.  Even though we understand capitalism and the photographers point, we are going to hang another picture, always support those who support you. 

We have a 10 year old, Gianni Risper, who currently attends Otto and a 14 month old, Anissa Risper, who we call NiNi (pronounced NEE NEE). (She is in the ad on page 8).  My husband, Frank, has been especially supportive of my passion, I could not do this without him.

The newspaper is basically a  family operation.  I do the layout, editing, most of the local stories, administrative duties and we do the deliveries.

We deliver to over 100 spots in Lansing and Jackson.  We also have out of state subscriptions in Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana.
We also mail to New York,  New Jersey, Arkansas, Georgia and Delaware.

The event raised $585.00 that will be used to purchase bins, to put in places that need them, like the library in downtown, Lansing and the Black Child and Family Institute.  A portion of the funds will be also used to purchase banners for the African-American Day Parade on August 3, 2002 in downtown Lansing.   If anything else comes in as a result of the event, I will be sure to let you know.  It has definately gotten busier around the office too.

Usually, this section is on Page 2 and we deal with issues that affect the community.  I  knew there would come a time when people would ask or wonder who was running the new newspaper in town.  We have been asked several times if we are The Metroplex News.  No we are not.  The owner of the Metroplex was Conrad Parrish who passed away in a tragic car accident.  I never had the opportunity to meet Conrad.

The Metroplex News has not been in business since November of 2001. Even though it is presently not in business,  Mr. Stephen Parrish, Conrad Parrish’s father, states that he wants to keep the paper in the family and someday he may start The Metroplex News again.  We send him copies of The New Citizens Press.  Mr. Parrish  said, “It’s the best paper in Lansing.” 

We held the Conrad Parrish Young Photojournalism Class at Letts Community Center.  It was very successful and we had six students in the class.   We would like to thank Robin Anderson of Lansing Parks and Recreation for being so supportive of the class.  We hope to do it again next year.

I have been also asked if we are The Plexus Press, no we are not.  I worked at The Plexus Press since its inception.  The first issue was printed in December and issues were printed in 2002.  The Plexus Press is not a continuation of The Metroplex either.  I left The Plexus Press in January  to pursue The New Citizens Press.  I wanted to print information  and news that was not being addressed by established newspapers. I also wanted to have a timely newspaper, we are bi-weekly and we deliver bi-weekly.  We also deliver at the same places all the time.  We are dedicated to providing consistent news. 

 My goal is to increase the size of the newspaper and provide more local stories from across the nation about real people.  We would also like to do more investigative stories. 

We also provide our readers with an innovative and unique view on a wide variety of current topics.  I wanted every age, socioeconomic group and nationality to read something that they could relate to.  I especially wanted to make Black children more knowledgable and proud.

We are The New Citizens Press and we plan on being an integral part of the community for a long time.  I want to provide readers with something “Nu”. 

In New York getting “Nu” is slang terminology.  If you got “Nu” that meant that you did a lot of changing since the last time a person saw you.  The person that they  used to know, no longer exists.  You have changed for the better, upgraded yourself and/or  changed your thought process.  Who says that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks?  Besides, unless it is an unforgivable act….. if you are angry with someone for longer than three years, just get over it.  It just isn’t worth the negative energy.

Before I worked for a newspaper, I had a dead end job.  I knew that as I looked around and saw maybe two minorities out of over a thousand employees in management positions that I was not going to get any where. It was a place where minorities were afraid to talk to one another for fear of being scrutinized.

Even after being a salaried worker busting your butt to make your manager look good, you still got no where and you would wonder what it was all for.  I tell people it is for your own integrity.  It doesn’t matter if they do not respect you, continue to work hard because at the end of the day you only have yourself to look at.   It did not matter if you were at work every day, what extra things you did, how much you smiled.  Anything could become a form of retaliation, even not wanting to share your birthday with people you knew really could care less whether you were alive.  Then you became anti-social.

I quit my job two weeks prior to the 9-11 tragedies in Washington and New York.  We arrived back in Michigan from New York  two days prior to the bombing.  I was walking into the pediatricians offices and passed by an office that had the television on and I saw the World Trade Center on fire.  I thought nothing of it.  My hands were full with an infant and my mind busy with commandeering my 9 year old.  When I got into the pediatricians office, my  knees buckled as I realize that what I was seeing was real.  I could not believe there could be such hatred in the world.

In the aftermath of the bombing, every American was thinking how is this going to affect me financially? I never thought for one second that I wanted to go back to my old job.  The place where I spent the most time and I felt the worse.  I actually rejoiced in the idea that I would get to work hard for myself and be appreciated.  Now working 50 hours a week is a great feeling. 

All types of discrimination still exist today.  Do not let anyone tell you that it doesn’t.  It does not matter either what political affiliation you are. There are both Democrats and Republicans who have the same criteria for discrimination.  Base everything on what you hear coming out of someone’s mouth or the actions that you see them doing.  My mother always said if so and so told you to jump off a bridge, would you?  What she meant was, be your own leader. 

My early experiences with the newspaper and being a female were not positive.  As the newspaper business is very competitive male dominated industry.  No help or advice available from veterans regarding what I should and should not do. 

Many times people use their initials because they are printing a view that is not the popular view.  I have to print my initials because I am a woman.  A male who called to offer me a service said the paper was too feminine.  It was quite ironic that I was working with a male who did most of the layout and story decisions. Early in the process, I began to just use my initials, which has actually worked out.

I could not  believe some of the things that people have done and said.  I even had a potential advertiser try to exert considerable amount of pressure on me to print “something” for nothing.  When I said no, I was given a weightless threat. 

These are the types of situations that make you work harder.  It has only been since February and I have countless stories.  But my purpose is to run a community newspaper and not deal with individuals who have self serving needs.  By doing the writing, editing, advertising sales, layout, bookkeeping and answering the  phones,  I am managing to survive.  And from the overwhelming positive response from the community we will become firmly entrenched as a community newspaper with a loyal readership.

Maybe I will write a book someday. 

I would like to thank all of the sponsors of The Unveiling Party:  Melik from Time Slot, Nadia Sellers, Marlon Fairweather and Ahmed Mortis from National Career Group and Nick Mackey from Kinkos.  I would also like to thank my writers, especially the people on the East Coast who e-mail me their material.  A special thanks goes to Constance Y. Ross, my attorney who has always managed to make me laugh and realize that keeping cool is the best way to keep your blood pressure down.  The Unveiling was was a great success and without God I would not be successful.  I loved seeing people networking and I loved hearing about what every one in the community and across the state was doing.  To my old friends, C. Moore and V. Padgett, thank you.  To Thelma Bibbs, you are the most reliable person I have ever known. Denise, all I can say is thanks whole bunch and yes I did learn a lot in The Microenterprise class.  To my family, I love you. For those who  contributed a special thanks too you, we did not get everyone’s name.

In an article written by Sheila Schimpf for the Lansing State Journal on January  26, 1990 Conrad Parrish was quoted as saying, “It’s a good thing to come together.  A lot of people   say that we’re (The Metroplex) a little bit more than a newspaper.  We do a lot of stuff  other newspapers don’t.”  How appropriate. 

Next issue, I go back to being R.N. Risper and writing about the people in the community.   I hope you enjoyed this special edition .  Let me know what you want to read about.  Especially, keep reading you may get “Nu” yourself.  We hope you can make it to our next event.


Rina N. Risper
Wife, Mother, Publisher and Owner

Printed in Volume 1 Issue 11