I love this newspaper.
I have loved this newspaper since the first time I read it, when I moved to Oak Park in 2006 (making me a newcomer to the area compared to most of your readers, I’m sure). I love the way it dives into local issues that aren’t responsibly addressed anywhere else. I love the way it questions those in power. I love the way it presents an approachable format on all sorts of issues unique to the near west suburbs.
Since I first became a reader, I have supported the mission of this newspaper, first by subscription, and now by yard sign and monthly donation (and, to those of you reading these words, in print or online, you very much should join me in both of those efforts, if you haven’t already).
But most of all, I love the engagement of you, our editor and publisher.
When I started reading this newspaper, you, above anyone else, informed me of what I was getting into in Oak Park. Your lifetime experience in this community, coupled with your straightforward journalistic style, gives you a unique ability to speak to the quirks and foibles and oddities and substance of what makes Oak Park what it is.
Your wry wit and impeccable ability to tweak noses needing tweaking to just the right degree makes you a weekly must read. One time, when I approached you during one of your annual marches in the River Forest Memorial Day Parade, I told you that I’d pay for the newspaper if all it contained was your editorial. Your insight was, and remains, that valuable to me.
But somewhere along the way, this newspaper sadly lost its way. As I called out in a letter to the editor in these pages over a year ago, the paper stopped trying to present any semblance of balance in its viewpoints. Whether or not coupled to the change to nonprofit business model, outside of the occasional letter to the editor, the paper stopped presenting any viewpoint other than that of the left.
The problem with such a one-sided publication is that it imposes a disservice on everyone. People who view the world from a conservative viewpoint find no voice. People with liberal viewpoints learn nothing other than that they like having their views affirmed, and never challenged.
But that’s not how people learn. People learn when they hear rational alternative viewpoints and decide for themselves what to believe. They don’t learn when all they hear is one monotone (and, at this point, monotonous) perspective. Most educated readers appreciate understanding how so many people can see things so differently than they do, and whether they change, moderate, or keep their viewpoint intact, they emerge better informed from the repeated exposure to alternative thoughts.
I know from our correspondence over the years that you value balance in this newspaper, and that leaves me all the more puzzled as to why you are content to allow this publication to devolve into nothing but an unmoderated bullhorn for the left. And, if you think that’s an overstatement, go reread the last year’s editions since I pointed out this indisputable imbalance and show me the changes you’ve implemented to present any sort of balanced perspective of the world (or our little corner of it) in these pages.
This newspaper can do so much more. It can be so much better. It has got to be better. The communities where you’ve lived your life and served so ably deserve better. Your financial backers deserve better. And you have the power to make it better, Dan.
Tom Healey is a resident of Oak Park.