As editor leaves, community groups aim to keep The Fallser in print

 Julie Camburn says her 247-issue tenure at The Fallser 'has been a wonderful ride.' (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

Julie Camburn says her 247-issue tenure at The Fallser 'has been a wonderful ride.' (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

Julie Camburn doesn’t get teary-eyed when she talks about stepping away from The Fallser, the monthly community newspaper she launched more than two decades ago.

No, the East Falls resident smiles. Often.

“It’s a beautiful thing to know you were able to create something that meant a lot to a lot of people,” said Camburn. “I had no idea that it would go on and on like this.”

The time is right

December’s paper will be the 247th and final issue Camburn edits. Her rationale for cutting ties is simple: It’s time.

Time because she’s getting older and fears the paper’s quality could slip if she does.

Time because she thinks The Fallser may need a new direction and she isn’t the one to take it there.

“It has been a wonderful ride,” wrote Camburn in last month’s Kenny Rogers-inspired farewell column “Know When to Hold ’em, Fold ’em, Walk Away.”

What’s next?

For the moment, the future of The Fallser — part community bulletin, part news source — is a bit up in the air.

Neighborhood stakeholders, including the East Falls Community Council and East Falls Development Corp., say they are “very interested” in keeping the paper alive.

The details of how and in what form, though, haven’t been bolted down quite yet.

“There’s both a financial side and a personnel side,” said Bill Epstein, EFCC’s vice-president. “Both of those sides need to be worked out and I believe in the end, they will be.”

Epstein, a longtime resident who recently retired from a long career in public relations, is part of a small committee that’s already met several times to discuss the fate of The Fallser.

He said individuals and institutions have expressed interest in running or helping to run the paper month to month.

Philadelphia University has offered up advice on web production should the community decide to beef up the paper’s online presence. There’s a website for the paper, but no content to peruse.

“We need an online presence,” said Epstein.

The paper is currently hand-delivered by neighbors — some volunteers, some not — to roughly 7,000 households each month.

Each issue costs between $1,000 to $1,500 to produce, a pricetag that may be too much for the EFDC and EFCC, but perhaps not for another organization.

“I don’t think the finances are insurmountable, but we need a plan,” he added.

Epstein and others are optimistic that one will fall into place, hopefully by the end of the year so there’s no gap in the neighborhood coverage residents can’t get elsewhere.

The alternative, said EFDC’s executive director Gina Snyder, would be a real shame.

“[The Fallser] has given people a sense that there is a community with an identity,” she said. “It’s definitely brought neighbors together.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.