allan dean 175The first online-only newspaper.  Since 1999

Today, we offer a short history of the Atlantic Highlands Herald as we celebrate 17 years of service to Monmouth County readers. 

On July 17, 1999, The Atlantic Highlands Herald became the first online-only newspaper in the country.  At the time, print publications had websites that shared some of their printed items, but these were adjuncts to their printed offerings, and not very complete. has only every offered the news items, columnists, and letters in electronic format online and delivered via email to a subscriber list that has grown to thousands and thousands of Monmouth County readers.  Our motto: “We like trees. We hate ink.”

So why did a physics geek, who absolutely hates to write, start an online newspaper? 

Because I could.

I have played with computers since my college days in the 1980’s. With the growing public use of the internet in the 90’s, I started writing HTML code to create web pages from scratch.   I created a dozen community websites around the Bayshore with details about each municipality: town contacts, schools, houses of worship and a satellite photo of the town.   It was a learning experience and a lot of fun.   Several hundred people contacted me during the process of growing these community sites and I developed my first mailing list.

In 1999, I was a member the Atlantic Highlands Planning Board and it troubled me that so few residents were aware of development plans in town. The board had before it an application for a Burger King drive-thru restaurant. Local media - what little existed at the time - did not cover planning board meetings or town council meetings in Atlantic Highlands. I saw a need and tried to meet it.

On July 17th, I sent my first email blast under the banner, Atlantic Highlands Herald. The email contained a welcome message and four news items:

  • Atlantic Highlands Planning Board hears Burger King proposal.
  • Lenape Woods Coalition planning Benefit Baseball game.
  • Dwayne Harris is Democratic Assembly Candidate (11th -Dist)
  • Summer Concert Series at the Atlantic Highlands Marina

The Herald continued to develop that first year with the addition of Columnists: Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stephan, Joe Reynolds, Jay Cosgrove, Carol Barbieri, Jack Archibald, Danny Murphy, Jr. Woody Zimmerman, George Patterson, Carol Caruso and others. There have been dozens of writers over the years that have contributed to our awareness and extended our knowledge of the place we call home.   Some of these writers have been with us from the start and continue to write columns today. I thank them all.

On January 1, 2000 the Borough of Atlantic Highlands voted to name the Atlantic Highlands Herald as one of the official newspapers of the town, making it the “first official electronic newspaper in New Jersey.” Other towns and organizations also named the Herald their “official newspaper”; among them, the Borough of Keansburg and the Atlantic Highlands Harbor Commission.

During our 10th Anniversary, the Herald was honored with a Joint Resolution of the New Jersey Assembly and Senate, recognizing our contribution as New Jersey’s First Official Electronic Newspaper.

Over the years, there were many, many stories shared with the community; from the candlelight vigils after 9/11 to the heroic efforts of your neighbors during and after Superstorm Sandy. We shared good news too; about student accomplishments and awards, firefighter graduations,  festival announcements, class reunions, arts openings and community opportunities for every age.

Today, we all have ready access to news and information on our desktops, phones and tablets. The Herald has kept up with upgrades to our delivery systems; with sophisticated email delivery and content management and responsive templates that make online viewing easy no matter what platform you use.

The only financial support we have received is from the wonderful advertisers who have trusted us with their message over the years.

One of the vital missions of the Herald has been the support of new businesses and non-profit organizations in the Bayshore region. It is what motivates everything I have done with the Herald.

If you have read this far, I will assume you care about the Herald and I share the following with you in the hope that you can help the Herald survive into the future.

Facebook and Twitter have gained the attention these days of many local advertisers who believe they are getting value for their advertising dollar on these sites. As a result it has become exceedingly difficult to sell advertising space in the Herald. Even when we are offering 40,000 unique local viewers, looking at close to half a million pages per month at prices far less expensive than social media. These numbers reflect local and US traffic only. Unlike some, we filtered out the robots, search engines and non-U.S. visitors.

If you know of a small business owner, or you are a small business owner, we hope you’ll consider the value advertising in the AHH brings to your business. With your support we can continue to support our community. For advertising information see:

Finally, I am seeking the help of anyone with marketing experience to provide direction and materials to promote the Herald going forward. Please contact me at:  allan (at)   Thank you.