There is a new media baron in town.
Vicki Schneps - whose empire has grown to 33 weekly newspapers, from the Queens Courrier to the Gay City News, plus websites and an events business - made her most audacious acquisition yet this month, taking over AM New York from Newsday.
"It's such a perfect fit for us. We are so committed in the boroughs," she said.
It's an unlikely career trajectory for the 76-year-old.
Schneps is a former teacher who founded her first newspaper in 1985, running it from her living room in Bayside.
She says journalism was a natural step from advocating for people with development disabilities, a cause close to home. Her daughter Lara was at the Willowbrook State School on Staten Island when Geraldo Rivera famously exposed how its residents were abused and neglected.
"My experience with Geraldo had always stayed with me. I thought, 'Look at this power of the press,'" Schneps said.
Sensing a need for community journalism, Schneps began launching weekly newspapers in Queens and then buying others, expanding her footprint to every borough except Staten Island. She calls them her "pothole papers," meaning almost no issue is too small to cover.
Acquiring the five-day-a-week AM New York gives the company's advertisers an even wider audience.
"Part of it is what we offer advertisers in the way of print, digital and events," said Josh Schneps, CEO of Schneps Media.
But with the new visibility comes scrutiny. Gothamist reported that Schneps Media has shielded advertisers and favored politicians from critical coverage.
Vince DiMiceli ran the Brooklyn Paper for two months after Schneps Media bought it, and then was then laid off. He says he fears for AM New York.
"Based on my experience with the Schneps, it's not going to be good for journalism. It might be good for promotion, it might be good for advertisers to be written about and spoken about nicely. It might be good for politicians who don't want to be asked tough questions," DiMiceli said.
The Schneps say they're committed to high quality local journalism, citing the 27 awards Schneps Media won at the last New York Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.
"We have never been accused of fake media, fake news. We are so local. And we never owned the papers from a political perspective. We've always covered the news as the news is," Vicki Schneps said.
Sources tell NY1 only two staffers from the old AM New York remain. Reporters and editors from other Schneps outlets now work at the paper.