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A milestone for the Reporter

Inaugural Issue : The first edition of the Dorchester Reporter, published in Sept. 1983.Inaugural Issue : The first edition of the Dorchester Reporter, published in Sept. 1983.Today’s issue of the Dorchester Reporter marks an anniversary for us: It was 30 years ago this week, in September 1983, that we first published this newspaper.

At the top of that inaugural Page One, above the fold, we wrote: “Hello – This is the very first edition of a new monthly newspaper that will be delivered to your home at the beginning of every month. The main goal of The Reporter is to provide information to you – news about your church, your school, your neighborhood, your local merchants – The news and values around the neighborhood.”

The big stories in that first edition were: Cable television was almost ready in Dorchester; a new church was rising from the ashes of the old St. William’s in Savin Hill; and the first 54 tenants were moving into a multi-million dollar renovation of the Walter Baker chocolate factory in Lower Mills.

That first edition also told a story that’s familiar in today’s news: Thirty years ago this month, there was a vacancy in the Boston mayor’s office, and nine candidates were competing for the seat. There were major electoral changes that month also, as a city charter change altered the make-up of the City Council to nine districts and four at-large seats, and a mid-summer court order forced a postponement in the municipal elections.

“Some candidates found themselves foundering in mid-August, while city and state government leaders debated a new set of district lines, ordered by a Federal court judge’s ruling that current districts were unconstitutional. “You could be forgiven if you are confused about the 1983 City elections,” we wrote. “When they will be held, who’s running for office, and what candidates you can vote for.”

That election 30 years ago first propelled a forty-something first-time candidate from Hyde Park into elective office – Thomas M, Menino was elected a city councillor in November. In District 4, Charles Yancey won his first council term, and in District 3, James Byrne was elected.

Advertisers in that first edition reflected how times have changed since then: For $1.59, you could buy a king roast beef sandwich at the brand new Arby’s restaurant on Gallivan Boulevard; sirloin tips were $2.79 a pound at George’s Market, purveyor of “top quality meats” at 281 Neponset Ave.; an early bird breakfast  special of two eggs, toast, and coffee was $1.29 at Carol’s Lunch in the “historic Walter Baker Building”; and a Perm Special at Jessie’s Hairstyling on Pope’s Hill cost just $25.

The make-up of the Reporter has gone through several alterations over the years. The newspaper began life as a monthly printed edition, soon expanded to twice monthly; and for the last 20 years, we have delivered the news to our readers every week on Thursday mornings.

We have also added a Mattapan edition, and two ethnic publications, and in the mid- 1990s added companion web sites. Today, the printed editions of the Dorchester Reporter and the Mattapan Reporter are available at more than 75 neighborhood locations, and our website, dotnews.com, attracts some 75,000 unique visits each month.