Chesterton Tribune

 

 

'Temporary job' lasted over 38 years

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By MARGARET L. WILLIS

I started working at the Chesterton Tribune in August of 1981, at what I thought at the time would be a “temporary” job. I’d studied Fine Arts and Philosophy at Valparaiso University and didn’t anticipate working at a newspaper as a photographer for long. I had excellent darkroom skills however, and a good work ethic, so I fit in to the effort of the rigorous daily deadline fairly quickly.

Almost three months later, in October of ’81, I met my now husband of 35 years, David Canright, when he returned to his position as Layout Editor after hiking the Appalachian Trail. We were married in 1985, this time of year, Dec. 28, so that our far-flung family could all be there.

To say I learned a lot at the Chesterton Tribune would be an understatement. In 1981 I, like most people, had never used a computer. I learned all the convoluted systems used to create long strips of type that were waxed and ‘cut in’ with an Exacto knife on the pages that were then photographed on a copy camera to create giant negatives for the burner that created printing plates. I learned to manage and adjust the huge camera, and every new device that came along to typeset headlines, stories and create advertising copy more quickly. I proofread and edited copy. I wrote cutlines (captions) for my, and other’s, photos. I photographed sporting events, local philanthropic groups, and got sent to house fires, car accidents, and sinkholes, surveyed tornado damage and downed trees, found cute kids enjoying local parks and documented the turning of the seasons in nature and dunes photos, and, through the newspaper, I helped promote a better understanding of the dunes ecosystem and the need to preserve and protect it.

I worked as a reporter, covering various town boards, park boards, police commission, library board. I researched and purchased the first digital cameras for the Tribune, making the development of camera film in the darkroom obsolete--the very thing I’d initially been hired to do.

Through these efforts I saw clearly I was carrying forward the ethics of democracy my parents so carefully taught. My father was an attorney and law professor, teaching Constitutional Law at VU. He served as city attorney for Portage and later as a Superior Court Judge. My mother was a citizen activist and historian, a leader in the bi-partisan League of Women Voters of Porter County. She worked as a substitute teacher and served on the Portage School Board and many other boards. In my work I have supported and encouraged civic engagement, promoted citizen involvement, and ensured transparency in government. I helped shine a light on local affairs, be they big or small, and helped inform citizens of the doings of their government and their neighbors.

In these more recent years, after double knee replacement, I’ve worked almost exclusively within the offices of the Tribune. In the newsroom as an editor and proofreader, and in the front office covering the phones and taking advertising calls and fielding questions from citizens and subscribers.

Through all this, we raised our daughter and were cross country parents, softball parents, basketball parents, orchestra parents. Suddenly we were proud IU grad parents.

And here I am, in the blink of an eye, 39 years later, at the point where I will be a retiree. It seems impossible.

It is with sadness we come to the point where a print newspaper is not financially viable--it took us a long time to acknowledge and accept this painful truth.

I will never regret the efforts put forth for community, for democracy, for protection of the environment. I hope that all of you will take it upon yourselves to continue to carry democracy forward. Attend local government meetings, educate yourselves on local, state, national and international issues. Look to the environment around you, work to preserve and protect it. And teach your children well.

 

Posted 12/30/2020

 
 
 
 

 

 

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