“All of us know we have a unique legacy — and today are in a unique situation to keep The Georgetowner moving forward,” says Sonya Bernhardt, owner and publisher of The Georgetowner, now in its 65th year and part of Georgetown Media Group. “That’s why in this anniversary issue, we are profiling Palantir and listing the high-tech companies of Georgetown, as we embrace new technology for the benefit of the newspaper.”
Right now, she and her marketing team are working on a reader survey that appears in this issue — and will make delivering the news better.
For more than 21 years, Bernhardt has owned this unique Washington, D.C., newspaper. She is the third owner and publisher, succeeding David Roffman and founder Ami Stewart.
Today, The Georgetowner reflects a 21st-century stylish vibe and, as the publisher says, “the Georgetown lifestyle, focusing on the arts, history, real estate, education, dining, health, fashion and philanthropy.” But there’s much more: hyperlocal news as well as reports on business and D.C. government. With associate publisher Charlene Louis at her side, now in her 15th year, The Georgetowner reveals our wider world, while keeping tradition close.
Among the staff, Bernhardt is eager to point out veteran writer Gary Tischler’s 40 years of arts and entertainment reviews and profiles. Tischler began writing long ago, for the Army and newspapers in northern California. Also, his obits are the stuff of legend.
It was on Oct. 7, 1954, that Volume 1, Number 1 of The Georgetowner appeared. Founder Stewart, a formerly of the Washington Star, laid out the newspaper at Little Caledonia, once a famed home goods store on Wisconsin Avenue.
Under Stewart and her right-hand woman Carol Stuart Watson, the newspaper grew with its news and profiles of a quieter time and include homespun ads of retail shops along Wisconsin Avenue and M Street. It was the younger Stuart before marrying, whose design talent, logos and drawings evoked those decades. She is the artist of the large antique-style map of Georgetown, created in 1959, that is still seen in some Georgetown homes today.
The Georgetowner was on its way to becoming the newspaper whose “influence far exceeds its size” — a quote from fashion designer Pierre Cardin during a party. Check the Georgetowner archives and see the story, written before the 1960 election season, on an N Street resident who was planning a run for president: Sen. John F. Kennedy. There are many more to be seen at the Georgetown Public Library’s Peabody Room in microfilm. Its director Jerry McCoy will be happy to find that certain story for you.
Roffman, who took over upon Stewart’s passing in 1976, gave the newspaper his own flare, especially during the 1980s. The newspaper went from a sedate federalist look to a frenetic, lively cityscape with illustrations crammed with people enjoying the town’s restaurants and bars. By himself, Roffman swept the streets with an elephant vac, before the work of more formal non-profits. His team of writers and sales reps included his brother Randy Roffman.
Roffman retired from the newspaper in 2009, but not before a couple of local awards that gathered influential neighbors and businesspersons. Only in Georgetown: a tribute for Roffman at Halcyon House with speeches by Sen. Charles Percy and Sen. Claiborne Pell.
Today, The Georgetowner benefits from the talents of loyal writers and editors. We’ve already mentioned veteran writer Gary Tischler. Your humble writer here, as editor-in-chief, has worked in journalism since his Georgetown University days, when he was head of the Georgetown Voice, moving to the Morristown Daily Record, U.S. News & World Report, Army Times and the Washington Times. More than a copy editor, Richard Selden directs arts coverage and coordinates the newspaper’s popular Cultural Leadership Breakfasts. California transplant Peggy Sands covers local and D.C. news with tenacity. She says Georgetown is like her hometown Montecito in Santa Barbara. Longtime social scene writer Mary Bird, who worked at the State Department, continues to charm and write about galas and charity benefits. Author Kitty Kelley, an important supporter, offers readers her Kitty Kelley Book Club. Add to this, the stylish Lauretta McCoy and Allyson Burkhardt and photographers Philip Bermingham and Jeff Malet. And still there’s more in the staff box.
With a readership of more than 50,000, The Georgetowner is mailed to 7,000-plus Georgetown residents and businesses. The newspapers’ distribution covers parts of D.C., Maryland and Virginia. And, of course, its web site contains all that is in the print product and additional stories and photos not seen in the paper — as it’s happening.
So, as The Georgetowner celebrates its 65th birthday, it looks to its past, present and future. It is all there for you to read, both hard copy and digital. Visit www.Georgetowner.com, and look for us on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. Look for our survey and let us know what you think.
The Georgetowner Newspaper
Georgetown Media Group
1050 30th St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20007