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Newsday and readers, a 75-year bond

We are not going to line up behind

We are not going to line up behind any county political organization. Our news and editorial policy will not be directed or dominated by advertisers, politicians, pressure groups or friends. Credit: Newsday / C.D. Batchelor

Newsday published 298 stories on Tuesday, along with 40 videos, 12 photo galleries and our 2015 voters guide. All available with a click or a tap.

You want to know what's happening and trust us to deliver it. Just as we have for 75 years.

Even when boys on bicycles were delivering an afternoon newspaper, Newsday got out the news as it was unfolding.

That's what happened with the fascinating November 1943 election, when the race for New York's lieutenant governor was considered a referendum on FDR's New Deal. Also on the ballot was Russell Sprague, the incumbent Nassau County executive and powerful Republican Party leader, who was fending off a major challenge from Democrats.

So as the fledgling newspaper compiled election results that night, reporters and editors took to the stage at the Rivoli movie theater in Hempstead, then the center of the universe for Long Island, to deliver updates to the moviegoers. Newsday also told readers they could call the newsroom for results, swamping telephone lines.

Today is our 75th anniversary, and we are celebrating. But the commemoration wouldn't be complete if we didn't recognize the contributions that you, our subscribers, have made to get us to this milestone.

It takes two to bond. And for a relationship to thrive, both parties must experience the same joys and setbacks, share the same values, and decide there is a good reason to stick together. After all these years, we're still together, maybe even closer than ever.

We hope you feel more connected to us after all we've been through. After 9/11, we told the life story of every Long Islander who perished, weeping together. And when Sandy wiped away much of the South Shore, Newsday was a lifeline for the delivery of information about relief services.

We post your photos and videos on our website and publish your letters and essays. Our reporters and editors get email tips and tweets from you as stories break. Remember the surprising storm of February 2013, when much of Suffolk County was buried in more than two feet of snow? You let us know how long you were stranded on the roads and trapped in homes because of unplowed streets.

Alicia Patterson, our first publisher, couldn't have imagined the changes these decades would bring when she started the presses in a converted car showroom in Hempstead. And we can't imagine how the news will be delivered and consumed on our centennial in 2040. But we will be reporting it.

While the digital era has transformed much of our operation, some things haven't changed. And as we noted on our 50th anniversary, we've grown up together, collectively sharing and shaping our distinctive Long Island state of mind.

Way back when, our vision was to unify the Island beyond its collection of towns and villages. Newsday identified the interests we had in common from Elmont to Montauk -- education, housing, transportation, safety, affordability and the environment. Our brand, if you will, was the connective tissue for this long and narrow place we call home. With our reach, we offered, for the first time, Long Island as a unified advertising market, yet another form of information for readers. The success of that business concept continues to allow us to staff a newsroom full of talented and dedicated journalists.

We are as passionate now about Long Island's promise as Alicia Patterson was then. We are still a watchdog on the affairs of government. We are the primary forum where ideas are discussed and challenged, and where people connect with each other. We are a tabloid that eschews sensationalism. We respect our community.

In 1947, two years after World War II and seven years after we staked a claim to become the newspaper for Nassau County, Newsday advocated for the quick and low-cost construction of homes for the returning soldiers and sailors and their new families. More than 800 people overwhelmed Hempstead Town Hall and the nearby streets for a hearing on a zoning change requested by developer William Levitt so he could build 17,000 houses. "Board OKs Cellarless Houses" was the headline in Newsday, and Long Island was on its way to being the nation's first suburb.

With growth and riches came problems. Newsday journalists, who built a reputation for some of the best investigative work in the nation, dug deep into the entrails of local politics, and as a result a lot of people have gone to jail. The upstart newspaper won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1954 for exposing the power labor leader William DeKoning Sr. exerted on Nassau County construction that brought him a cut of the action on many projects. Now, our reporting on betrayals of the public trust, legal and illegal, features extensive mining of data to expose wrongdoing, stupidity and incompetence by public figures.

Some 20 years after that initial Pulitzer, the Pulitzer-winning series "The Heroin Trail" traced the scourge from the poppy fields of Turkey to Long Island's streets, where the drug claimed the lives of young people. Just this week Newsday described how cheap heroin from Mexico is being delivered to front doors as dealers use apps and cellphones.

Our goal is to remain vibrant and relevant. Today, you have many ways to get your news. Yet so many Long Islanders continue to rely on us. Each week, the paper reaches 1.2 million readers. Each month, 5.5 million people access from their computers and mobile devices. You trust us to determine what's important and allow us to use our years of experience in this community to provide context for the onslaught of data in this information age.

In her first editorial on Sept. 3, 1940, Alicia Patterson wrote, "We hope you are going to like us . . . We are convinced this county has a bright future and want to share in it. Please send us your criticism and your advice. We will be grateful for both. P.S. Also for your good wishes."

Today, we are still very grateful for the privilege of being part of your lives.