There were many other newspapers in the city at the time. They were
called the neighborhood newspapers, and there were upwards of 20 of
them throughout the Chicagoland area. These publications came out
just once a week and carried the news of a specific area within the
The neighborhood paper my family
received when I was a young man was called the Portage Park Times. It was a simple 12-page
paper that carried the news of the neighborhood surrounding the
park. And for all the power and money and coverage that the giant
papers had, the Portage Park Times was a very popular weekly.
The Times didn't carry the same stories the four major papers
did. Rather it told us about the new park's swimming pool hours or
had pictures of us playing baseball and everything else you can
imagine went on in a neighborhood filled with people.
I remember the Portage Park Times listed all the dates and times
when churches and schools and civic organizations were planning
something. It had milestones and anniversaries and special
announcements that weren't important enough for the big four to
carry in their papers. But these items were more than important enough for
the neighborhood paper to print. In effect, the paper was about us,
our neighborhood, and readers loved it.
In a scrapbook, I have a picture of me swinging a bat in a park
game when I was only 14, nearly a half-century ago. My mother cut it
out and saved it in an album. The picture was special to her, and
that thought always enters my mind when I am out taking pictures.
"Is this something that will be kept for years? Is it something
special to someone or perhaps several people? Do it right, Mike, and
make it as good as you can because this is about people and your
business is people," I think to myself.
That simple picture, kept by my mom for decades, reinforces daily
the importance of what I do every time I hold a camera up and take a
picture of someone.
The Portage Park Times was free and was supported only by
advertisers who believed sponsoring news in the community was the
same as sponsoring the community.
The Lincoln Daily News is just like those old neighborhood
papers, and I think the success of our publication tells us a lot
about ourselves: we, the producers, and you, the readers.
People like to have information about themselves and their
projects, accomplishments or milestones made known to everyone
else. People, even the modest ones, have a sense of pride in
themselves and what they do that often not only leads to an
interesting story, but also gives them a pick-me-up that you can
just see on their faces.
I have learned, as our owners, the Youngquists, already knew,
that when you engage the community you love, that community will
engage and love you back. I ask where you can find a better job,
a better calling than that.
[to top of second column]
It has been such fun talking to people about their stories and
seeing their faces light up when you tell them it will be in our
paper on such and such date. People, for all their modesty, love to
brag about themselves, their family or their organization, if given
a chance. And why not? Good deeds, good work, good effort does
not come with a mandate of silence. Rather it deserves, even demands,
that it be shared with the rest of the neighborhood, or in our case,
One of my very bad office jokes is that if given a choice between
a top picture of a nuclear explosion or one of a bunch of kids
accomplishing something, I go with the kids. A classic Mike Fak
stretch of the imagination no doubt, but not far from the truth. For
every mug shot or grim story we as a newspaper are compelled to
publish, there are more thanks for showing a picture of the school
band practicing for football season in the August heat or youngsters
receiving honors for scholastic achievement. And maybe, just maybe,
the story or picture gets printed out and put on the refrigerator or
perhaps goes in a mom's scrapbook. Can there be a better compliment
or mandate to try harder than that thought?
As a paper we have a responsibility to deliver all the news, good
or bad, in a responsible way.
To be sure, the economy, sad and troubling stories, and all the
other important events that shape our daily lives belong in the news
and should be available for public discourse. We do that every day,
hand-choosing the Associated Press stories we think you would be
most interested in.
But there is more to us than just those stories. And we believe
it is up to the neighborhood newspaper to tell us and show us that
not everything in the world is wrong. Not everything is worthy of
lamentation. There is triumph of accomplishment in our world,
especially here, where we live and work and try so hard to be better
than the day before.
As LDN celebrates its 10th anniversary, I want to tell all of you
it has been my privilege these past two years to be associated with
LDN. It has been my blessing to be associated with all of you.
I just didn't know you people were so darn busy.