Chesterton Tribune



Tribune begins 137th year as community's newspaper

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The Chesterton 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” Canright.

Recent History

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 co-publishers.

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.

The Tribune 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.

The Duneland 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 morning/lunchtime routine.

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.

“Somewhere along 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.”

The Mission Continues

The Tribune’s 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 system.

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.



Posted 4/2/2020





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