Tribune was born on this day 136 years ago--its first print edition
rolled off the presses April 2, 1884.
This year, the
Tribune also celebrates 20 years since it began offering a sampling of
articles from the printed edition on a website.
The first edition
of the Chesterton Tribune, from Bowser & Watson publishers, was dated
April 2, 1884. Valparaiso-native Arthur J. Bowser was founder and editor
until his health began to fail in 1918. John G. Graessle, who had been head
printer since 1894, took over in 1919. Graessle leased the paper from Bowser
for four years before fully acquiring it. Following his death 92 years ago,
in February 1928, Graessle’s widow sold the paper to Warren R. Canright.
Warren R. had
started his news career at age 13 as a printer’s devil at the East Troy
(Wis.) News, keeping the fires for the press hot and the printing area
clean. He graduated from Lawrence College with a bachelor’s degree in 1917
after being the editor of his college newspaper and reporting for the
Appleton Daily Post. He then served in World War I, and became a Linotype
operator for the Chicago Tribune upon returning. When he married
Phyllis Post, the couple decided to buy a small town newspaper.
Warren R. sent a
free copy of the Tribune to all Chesterton and Porter soldiers during
WWII, among them Warren R.’s son, Warren H. Canright. The Canright sons,
Warren H. and John E., both worked at the paper from a young age, and joined
the business after WWII and after they each earned Journalism degrees from
Indiana University. In April 1961, the Tribune went from a weekly to
a daily paper. The delivery area was later expanded to include all of
Duneland School district.
In 1981, John E.
sold his interest in the paper to his sister-in-law Elizabeth “Betty”
In 2014, Warren H.
passed away. His son David Canright, David’s wife Margaret Willis, and Betty
began publishing the paper jointly with Dave as managing editor.
In 2017, Betty
Canright passed away. Dave Canright and Margaret Willis became
In 2017, the rate
for a single paper was doubled from 50 cents to $1--still a bargain compared
to other area newspapers.
In summer 2018,
former circulation manager Katelin Muller was the first woman to run the
now-antique Goss Community Offset Press machine that Warren H. acquired 50
years ago in 1970.
2019 was the 49th
full consecutive year the Chesterton Tribune was printed on the Goss
Community Offset Press in the basement of the brick building at 193 S.
Calumet Road where the Tribune has been based since 1902.
is now printed at Lithotype printing with a slightly earlier news deadline
of around 11 a.m.
Effective Feb. 1,
2019, the Tribune raised subscription rates for the first time since
1991. Reactions from subscribers were mixed--some came to the front counter
or called to complain, while some took a moment to tell us how much they
value the paper and that it was about damn time. Rates went from $6 a month
to $8 a month for home delivery and from $8 a month to $10 a month for mail.
Chamber of Commerce honored the Tribune with the “Putting Duneland on
the Map” award at its 2019 annual banquet. Lorelei Weimer, executive
director of Indiana Dunes Tourism, nominated the Tribune and spoke
about the importance of local news when she presented the award. Senior
Reporter Kevin Nevers and I attended the banquet to accept the award while
Dave and Margaret were putting together that day’s paper--their daily late
In 2011, Nevers
wrote a series of articles honoring the 50th anniversary of the paper’s
switch to daily publishing. In his years of experience reporting for the
Tribune since 1997, Nevers captured the Tribune’s mission and
impact better than I could. He wrote that Dunelanders “have always been
spirited, compassionate people. The Trib did not--and could
not--instill civic-mindedness and generosity where there was none before.
“But arguably the
daily Trib has done this: by serving as a rallying point, a promoter,
a booster, it has focused and channeled Dunelanders’ decency, made them
aware every day of opportunities to act and belong, given credit where
credit is due to Duneland’s achievers and heroes, and showcased its children
as they learned, competed, and excelled.
the way too, you could add, the Trib succeeded in branding
Duneland--more effectively than any high-paid consultant ever could--not as
a place on a map, not as a tourist destination, but as a community,
with a common heart and common values.”
mission has always been to print news by, for, and, about local residents
and give them the tools that they need to stay informed and be involved in
local government. This mission persists, and the Tribune remains
independently owned, even as local news outlets around the world are
vanishing and being consumed by faceless and far away parent corporations at
a breakneck pace.
Warren R. Canright
purchased the weekly Chesterton Tribune just before the onslaught of
the Great Depression. The price of a subscription remained the same ($2 a
year). We kept the doors open.
On Monday, April 3,
1961, a time when more local newspapers were folding or cutting publication
days, the Tribune expanded by going daily and starting home delivery
in such an unusual move, we were mentioned in a Time magazine
article. Despite this risk, we kept the doors open.
On Sept. 11, 2001,
we watched with the world as disaster unfolded, but then we put aside our
fears and uncertainties and got to work to make sure Duneland knew the
latest on not only the tragedy, but also which CHS sports teams just had
victories, what fun programs for kids were going on at the Library, and how
our local government was working to represent the interest of its citizens.
In 2009, an EF2
tornado hit Duneland, damaging the roof of Chesterton Middle School then
heading north, hitting houses along the way before it hopped over I-94. We
not only kept the doors open, but won a 2010 award for our deadline
reporting on the event.
In April 2017,
Nicole Gland, 23, was murdered behind our office. Our employees found her
and called 911. We still put out a paper with police and Chicago media
swarming around us. We have kept the doors open, and we were in the
courtroom when her murderer was convicted in November 2019.
As memory serves,
we’ve missed only four publication days in 59 years of daily publishing. In
1967 and 2019, dangerous winter weather precluded us from sending our
carriers out in blizzards and sub-zero temperatures. In 1998 and once else
in the past decade, power outages disabled our in-house press and computer
Today, in the
unprecedented public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, our doors are
locked, and we ask that you drop payments through the mail slot or call in
observance of social distancing guidelines, but our doors are not “closed.”
We are still working.
We are still the
crash test dummies for experiences you can’t, or don’t have time, to have.
We ask the hard questions of local politicians and attorneys and take their
anger and indignation on the chin so you don’t have to. We use as many words
as we need to get the story straight. We run corrections within 48 hours--no
exceptions--whenever we find out we’ve made a mistake.
We watch four hours
of livestock auctioning just to snap a couple pictures of Duneland 4-H kids
in action, and if the few we got come out a bit blurry, we run them anyway,
because this is our community. Those are our kids.
We don’t work for
any one person or company. We are not owned. We are independent. The
Chesterton Tribune works for Duneland and its people. We have worked for
Duneland since 1884, and our work is not done.