“Every time a newspaper dies, even a bad one, the country moves a little closer to authoritarianism; when a great one goes, like the New York Herald Tribune, history itself is denied a devoted witness.”
— Richard Kluger, journalist for the Wall Street Journal, New York Post and the last literary editor for the New York Herald Tribune; Pulitzer Prize winner and book publisher.
Tina Valentino is the Editor/Publisher
It nearly killed me to hand the cashier four dollars for two copies of the last issue of the Proviso Herald since they have been reading me for free for years. But, when the last issue hit newsstands on December 23, 2010, I felt compelled—not to be confused with sentimentality—to shell out the money. The compulsion evolved into wasting half a tank of gas trying to find the retiring rag because the Pioneer office would only tell me that copies are available at “gas stations and convenience stores.” In the end, after a chilly, unnecessary tour of Proviso Township, the cost of two copies was closer to $30 in unleaded premium. With the farewell, pre-Christmas issue, readers were gifted the additional aggravation of driving aimlessly through the seven towns in which they claimed to circulate.
In my heart, I feel like Richard Kluger. The demise of any newspaper is the loss of a “witness,” another set of eyes on elected officials, events, even disasters. A flip through the final issue is evidence that an operation as personnel-packed as Pioneer Press afforded the kind of coverage of people and events that this area may never see again. Local sports news will be sidelined; arts and entertainment may experience an eternal intermission; garage sales will be reduced to streamers and homemade signs littering up every corner. And without that nosy neighbor lurking around every corner, Bellwood, Hillside, Berkeley, Maywood, Broadview, Melrose Park and Stone Park finally have Gladys Kravitz off their backs and the weekly worry of seeing negative headlines off their minds. And, an insatiable advertising hog, the Herald somehow managed to lure the biggest and smallest businesses into its tangled web of high prices and poor circulation.
No doubt I am thrilled for Charles Smith, Janice Mitchell-Bolling, the Watson family, Maywood Fine Arts, Dorothy Lane Thomas, Northica Stone and the flicker of folks who were justly featured in past issues of the Proviso paper. It takes money and manpower to be everywhere. Not surprisingly, the issue was thick on ads and thin on substance except for the Opinion page. While I am obviously not thrilled that some may lose their jobs because of the downsizing, I haven’t been able to shed a tear yet for the publication that, disguised as a “watchdog,” has embarrassed good people, shredded reputations and made a small fortune out of bashing Melrose Park—something Melrose Park can do all by itself. There were probably more tears shed at the end of the Proviso Star-Sentinel era than there were on December 23rd.
Erwin Knoll wrote: “Everything you read in newspapers is absolutely true, except for that rare story of which you happen to have first-hand knowledge,” and Pioneer made millions on the fact that few people had access to first-hand knowledge and so their scandalous stories sold like hotcakes. Well, not anymore. Perhaps we are, in fact, denied a witness; then again, perhaps we are provided, in this new year, an opportunity to prove that the Proviso Herald was not the “be-all and end-all.” May 2011 bring health and happiness to our readers and more great people and stories to our humble pages.
Tina Valentino is the Editor and Publisher of Neighbors, a FREE publication that spotlights the western suburbs and partners advertisers with award-winning stories. Neighbors Magazine – “Everyone has one” is distributed each month via high-traffic retail and/or commercial outlets throughout Bellwood, Berkeley, Elmwood Park, Forest Park, Franklin Park, Hillside, Maywood, Melrose Park, Northlake, North Riverside, Oak Park, River Forest, River Grove, Schiller Park, Stone Park and Westchester. www.neighborsmagazine.com