Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The Naperville Sun is celebrating 75 years in the city!
The first issue of the Naperville Sun rolled off the presses on July 19th, 1935. Four years later, Naperville’s own Harold White bought the paper and remained the owner for more than four decades. The Sun became the local paper for all the news of Naperville, which was then a town of five-thousand residents.
“Back in 1935 you could see stories about someone having a new hen house, an accident, and somebody getting married, all on the front page,” said Editor of the Naperville Sun, Nick Reiher. “As we evolved, that went into separate sections of the newspaper.”
Separating sections in the paper was not the only thing that evolved over the years. In the late 1930’s the Sun cost a dollar a year to subscribe to the paper, and now it cost a dollar a day to pick one up at the newsstand.
The Sun has also moved from being a weekly paper to a daily publication. “Back in the days when we were weekly, people had to wait an entire week to get the news,” said Naperville Sun staff writer, Kathy Millen. “So, if something happened on say, a Thursday night, years and years ago, no one could read about it till the following Thursday”
Millen has written many stories as a feature writer for more than 35 years, and she says she remembers them all. “I did a story about a woman who taught a manners class for little boys at the Naperville Park District, and just what she had to go through to get these little boys to sit up straight and know which fork to use,” she explained.
Opinion editor for the Sun, Tim West, has seen the paper grow to more than 20-thousand readers. “It used to be all community news, no comics, no national news fights, just local stuff. We still try to keep a very tight local focus,” said West.
Preserving that local focus remains the goal for the Sun-Times Media Group, who bought the sun 10 years ago. The company expanded the Sun’s reach through online media and social networking.
Yet some local residents, nothing replaces an actual newspaper. “I like to sit out in the park and I like having the hard copy in my hands,” said Naperville resident John Toner. “That’s just kind of based on tradition, the way I’ve been used to doing it for years.”
Associate Professor of Speech Communication for North Central College, Steve Macek, still sees local papers having an important role in the history of the city.
“Community papers perform a valuable function for the citizens. They provide people and their readership with information about local politicians, local elections, candidates, and local political issues,” said Macek. “I would argue that the Naperville Sun at 75 years has done exactly that. There is still a real value of having a local community-based paper, if nothing else than to provide political information to citizens, like the ones living in Naperville.”
It has been a long journey from paperboys to online browsing, but the sun has not set on Naperville’s community newspaper.
“The delivery method may change, but the Naperville Sun, no matter how it evolves, will always be Naperville’s paper,” said Reiher.
The Naperville Sun will have a city celebration on July 24th to commemorate the historic anniversary.
Click here to view Naperville Sun on Business Connection.
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