If you’re reading this, you obviously don’t mind handling a “dead tree covered with dirty ink.” That’s how a young person described this old dinosaur of the media”a newspaper. So, at the risk of preaching to the ink-smudged choir, I would like to stick up for our “outmoded” form of communication.

Actually, I got the idea from reading a Tribune column by Charles M. Madigan. He explained why newspapers would always be an important source of information. Sure, we’re the Pony Express compared to TV and the internet but, as Madigan wrote, accuracy and intelligent perspective take time.

Another thing that hit home for me was reading about the “Darwin v. Intelligent Design” trial in Pennsylvania. You couldn’t pinpoint the opposing group’s differences by any traditional measure: age, education or religion. The only thing that set them apart was that the Darwinists were avid newspaper readers and the Intelligent Design people were not. It was like the “eagles” versus the “ostriches.” In fact, the evolutionists only learned about the school board’s plan to bring the Bible into biology by reading their two local papers.

A well-informed citizenry is vital to this country, so I find it distressing that many young people show no interest in current events. Or, if they do follow the news, their only source is on the comedy channel (Got to admit, that show is funny, though).

Just as citizens have a duty to find out what’s going on around them, newspapers have an obligation to be objective and accurate. Or, if they’re being paid to spread propaganda to the public, they should tell us whose writing the checks. Both here and in Iraq, we’ve had “journalists” being paid tax dollars to plant stories.

Closer to home, though, we have the unseen hand of advertisers shaping stories. It would be easy for a small paper like the Review to engage in weekly boosterism. It would be tough for this paper to bite the occasional advertising hand that feeds it. Small papers like ours are also be tempted to give local government a pass.

Back in the 1920s, when Al Capone controlled Cicero, one newspaper never reported his nefarious schemes, while another took on “Scarface” every week. Robert St. John, the editor of the Cicero Tribune, survived a beating, only to be silenced when Big Al bought his paper. The Review also had guts in those days, describing open corruption in the village government and how the local police ignored illegal gambling, among other vices.

I believe this old-fashioned spirit is stirring again in Forest Park. Citizens are demanding openness in government and are less willing to let business interests run roughshod over them.

Now, even though this space traditionally serves as an oasis from hard-hitting journalism, I’m not afraid to ask a tough question: What happened to putting plastic bags over the parking meters this time of year? Even our revenue-hungry neighbor to the east has caught on to the wisdom of giving Christmas shoppers a break.

If after you get the dirty ink from this dead tree off your hands, you find that something indelible remains, then we know the Review is doing its job.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.