Join us in celebrating National Newspaper Week

This week is National Newspaper Week.

Surprisingly, I don't receive flowers or cards from friends and relatives. Just kidding. Most people probably aren't even aware of the week, but it's important to us.

The theme of this, the 81st annual National Newspaper Week, is "Community Forum," and it's connected to The Relevance Project, a national effort intended to speed the resurgence of community newspapers in North America.

We are fortunate that since we launched The Hinsdalean 15 years ago, we have been embraced by readers and advertisers. Someone just this week introduced me to a group of high school students by sharing the story of how Jim Slonoff and I started The Hinsdalean, stressing how lucky the community is to have a truly local paper.

I hope the other 8,600 local newspapers across the country have advocates like that. But I fear that's not always the case.

Part of the problem is that people confuse community papers with other types of media - mainly large daily newspapers like the Chicago Tribune, whose mission has morphed from informing readers to maximizing profits for shareholders.

Another problem is social media. Some believe they can get all the information they need from a parent who posts about what's happening at a school board meeting or a business owner who comments on something that's happening in the village.

Those posts might provide some insight, but they are not the same thing as an article written by a professional journalist who has dedicated his or her life to writing objective reports of events.

All this is exacerbated by our own unwillingness to toot our own horn. Reporters and photographers typically like to stay in the background, observing. But that needs to change.

We need to remind people that looking through our pages is the best way to find out what's happening in town, from changes to the grading policy in District 86 to laments of residents whose homes flooded this summer to information about Saturday's fire and police open house.

Our sports pages are the best place to find out how the Hinsdale Central football team fared against Downers North Friday night, if the Senior Gold Falcons are still undefeated and if the girls and boys cross country teams qualified for state.

Community newspapers also connect readers with current neighbors and others who have made Hinsdale their home over the years. In this issue, readers can learn more about father-daughter coaches and athletes at Central, the organizer of Hispanic Heritage Month events and Tomi Adeyemi's triumphant return to her hometown as a New York Times best-selling author.

Editorials, photos, columns, obituaries, calendar listings - all these things help readers gain a better understanding of and appreciation for their community.

A favorite story of mine has to do with my early days at The Doings in the late 1980s. My then-coworker Sandy Bosch (now our freelance writer) and I used to joke that if we were still working there when the paper celebrated its centennial in 1995, something had gone seriously wrong with our careers.

Well, the centennial (Oct. 5 of that year, by the way) came and went. We realized at some point that our goal was not to work at a big daily newspaper. Our goal was to tell the stories of the people who lived and worked in a community we had grown to love.

Sandy eventually left to be home with her children and much later I left and started The Hinsdalean with Jim.

All of us here feel lucky to be a part of this paper and lucky to do what we do. That's cause for celebrating - any week of the year.

- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean