The newspaper business is in tough shape and some of the oldest papers in the country are crumbling. The last thing the Review needs is another competitor, but a group of Forest Park students have launched the Garfield Tribune.
Unlike the Chicago Tribune, which shrank from a broadsheet to an – eek- tabloid, the Garfield school newspaper is printed in the easy-to-read staple-in-the-top-left-corner format. The paper began as the brainchild of faculty coordinator Alice Reeves. Her enthusiasm inspired 12 students to take up position in the newsroom.
Her staff didn’t just promise in-depth coverage of the classrooms. The Tribune would offer features the Review could only dream about.
Once the staff was assembled, they planned a visit to the offices of the Review in the same manner the ancient Greeks took a “field trip” inside the walls of Troy. They lured Publisher Dan Haley to the conference room and persuaded him to spill journalistic secrets for the next hour. Haley offered them practical advice and examples of big stories his papers have covered. Like the time an Oak Park principal promised to spend a night on the school roof if his students met their reading requirements. It rained the night he camped out. You could see the Tribune staffers imagining their own principal up on the roof.
Before showing them the layout process, Haley let slip some inside information: that local papers had trouble covering classroom activities. Armed with this expertise, the Garfield Tribune reporters fanned out across their campus, conducting exclusive interviews with teachers and students. They found out that fifth-graders were studying the digestive system and that “the first 10 to 12 inches of your small intestine is called the duodenum.” It was revealed that the second-graders were going to the Shedd Aquarium and that Mrs. Yopchick’s first-grade class had “six February birthdays!”
The Tribune wasn’t all hard-hitting news. It contained a whole page of puzzles and jokes. (Do you know how many Review readers have suggested we run a crossword?)
As for features, the Tribune Washington correspondent provided an up-close look at the inauguration.
The Tribune surpassed the Review in many categories, including the journalistic gene pool. It turns out the editor has ink flowing in her veins. Her late grandfather, Bob Haeger, was the former publisher of the Review.
Taking a page from the present publisher’s playbook, the Garfield Tribune is hitting the newsstands for free for the time being. Dan Haley did the same thing when he started the Wednesday Journal in Oak Park.
Now that the Tribune has been successfully launched, it won’t be long before more papers crowd the field in Forest Park. One can imagine the Grant-White Gazette, the Field-Stevenson Flyer and the Betsy Ross Bugle going to press. My only advice to Dan Haley is to beware “Greeks” riding yellow buses.