By VINCE TROIA
Despite calling community newspapers “a lost art,” the owner of a weekly Bellevue sports publication has launched The Vue, Bellevue’s first print newspaper in nearly five years.
Mike Hastings, who in those five years has successfully produced the Bellevue Sports Weekly, both in print and online, is a 60-year-old veteran journalist who believes there is some life left in printed community news, especially in Bellevue, he said.
“I don’t think print is dead. There will always be people my age or close to it that are going to want to enjoy picking up a newspaper and reading it,” said Hastings.
The Vue hit news racks in Bellevue last week, the first print community newspaper since the Bellevue Messenger ceased in December 2014. Prior to that, The Belle View had a short run as well, but none worked as well as the Westview, which was the community’s go-to news source for decades.
“It’s kind of a lost art,” said Hastings of community news, when people loved to see names of their children and neighbors in the paper. The art of clipping stories from newspapers has continued with the Sports Weekly — Hastings thinks it can continue with The Vue.
“It’s not just sports — it can be math, science, arts, whatever,” he said. “We have to promote family; must promote kids. Regardless of what they say, they do love to see their picture in the paper.”
The foundation Hastings has built with the sports paper the last five years tells him there is readership out there. However, instead of producing two publications, he is inserting the sports publication into The Vue as a separate section.
Hastings said he wasn’t worried about keeping the Bellevue Sports Weekly separate — in fact, his first thought was just to incorporate sports pages into the new paper. A friend of Hastings suggested that he keep the name and let readers pull it out and read it separately rather than lose the identity altogether.
“Part of starting The Vue was to attract new advertisers that were not interested in having their ads in a sports publication,” Hastings said.
While continuing to cover lots of school sports, Hastings said The Vue will start writing about classroom and community achievements, as well as increased senior living news.
Originally from Tonawanda, New York, Hastings earned his reporting chops in Southern California for years before moving to Tennessee. But his love of journalism and sports has been intertwined since high school.
When he was a catcher on the Tonawanda High School state-champion baseball team, he was editor of the school newspaper as well.
In California, he picked up golf clubs for the first time so he could interview the late entertainer Bob Hope over 18 holes. “He was hard on me,” Hastings remembered. “Guys in the group said Hope made more fun of me than he did Gerald Ford.” And the former president was a frequent target of Hope’s barbs.
Despite the jokes, Hastings wound up becoming a scratch golfer, eventually working as a tour pro before an injury sidelined him.
Prior to the sports weekly, Hastings was working at Tennessee Golf Club, “making a nice living,” he said, but he “wanted to get back into writing.”
Hastings was printing 1,000 copies of the weekly, and The Vue is starting with that same number. His email blast list is at 10,000, and he plans to have separate websites for The Vue and the Sports Weekly.
“We’re content to see where it goes,” he said.