From politician to publisher: Matt Doherty embraces the power of journalism

By:  | July 9, 2024 Features Monmouth County

By Gena-Ansell-Lande

 

 

Matt Doherty has worn many hats throughout his lifetime, from being on the Borough Council in Belmar, the Mayor of Belmar, then on to the Executive Director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority in Atlantic City. His latest venture stays out of the political realm entirely, as he is now the publisher of the online newspaper TAP Into Belmar / Lake Como.  

 

Community Magazine: Tell us about your experience as the Mayor of Belmar, especially during Superstorm Sandy. What memories do you have of that time?


Matt: I often say that being Mayor is great, as long as it’s not during the biggest natural disaster in the state. Despite of all the damage, it was wonderful to see how the community came together as a whole. The support we got from outside New Jersey still astounds me. So many people wanted to help to “restore the shore.” One story that stands out is of a single mother who had her elderly mother living with her. She was raising four children and could not get back into her home because of the damages from the storm. We started a fund to assist the family and a few local journalists covered the story. A reporter for the Associated Press happened to also cover the story and a woman from Illinois read it and was inspired to send us $5000. She had no connection to Belmar or the Jersey Shore, for that matter. She felt called to help and I believe that is the true power of journalism.


CM: What are some favorite local spots in Asbury Park?

 

MD: I have always been a huge fan of Taka and Bond Street Bar. The House of Independents and other local music venues are always a lot of fun and bring some incredible talent our way. Stone Pony Summer Stage and the Sea Hear Now Festival have become well-known events we all look forward to. More than anything else, I appreciate the diversity and inclusiveness of this town.

 

CM: What led to your interest in becoming a publisher of TAPinto Belmar/Lake Como? 


MD: During my time as the mayor, I often interacted with local journalists. Noticing what gets covered (or not) piqued my interest, even back then. The last few years we have seen a decline in local news and it is an important part of our community. People enjoy hyper-local information. Our publication enables us to create a (new) news story every day, 365 days of the year.

 

CM: What type of content do you publish?

 

MD: We focus on hyper-local news in the community, municipal happenings, and events. Because we are 100 percent digital, we can always make edits if necessary. We get a lot of our information from zoning boards or council meetings, as well as social media. I have come to learn that the stories are there; it’s just a matter of curating which ones will fill that void by the lack of what used to be daily coverage. We realized our readers like stories about events before they happen and I think my municipal background has helped to inform me of what is newsworthy.

 

CM: What do you enjoy most about living down the shore?

 

MD: Belmar and Asbury Park in particular are both small towns with large names. In addition to the vibrant art and restaurant scene, the music venues are legendary. It is remarkably different than it was 25 years ago and the growth has contributed to its popularity. It is an ideal place to raise a family. We have a Main Street, Boardwalk, and the Ocean. It doesn’t get much better than that. I often remind my kids that they live where people come to vacation.

 

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