Reflections of 1991: A Valentine’s Greeting to My Former Colleagues at The Courier-News

From the front page of the Feb. 15, 1991 edition of The Courier-News in Elgin, Ill.

This past Sunday was the 20th anniversary of my start with The Courier-News of Elgin, Ill.

When Mike Bailey hired a 22-year-old guy who had trouble navigating his way to the newsroom all the way from Chicago, it was for an eight-week period to fill in for a reporter on maternity leave.

As it turned out, the reporter decided to stay home with her baby, and Bailey decided that I could stick around longer.

It set into motion an eight-year period in my career that I appreciate more with each passing year.

Before moving on in March 1999, I had the good fortune of working alongside dedicated professionals, of having the chance to do wide-ranging, important work, and of learning a ton all along the way.

One of my first assignments, during Week 2 at the newspaper, was a feature story on Valentine’s Day 1991 about 25 couples who chose that romantic day to get married at the Kane County Courthouse in Geneva. (You can click on the image above to read more.)

The last few years, I’ve kept the piece on my office wall, with the idea that it would be fascinating to catch up with a few of those couples today, see how they’re doing–and whether they remain married.

A few weeks ago, I suggested such a follow-up to my former colleagues. No reply yet, and I understand if they don’t have a chance to pursue it. Resources are so limited and personnel so stretched today in the newsroom.

Thanks largely to social media, many of us have stayed in touch. Two months ago, when the paper’s office at 300 Lake St. closed after more than a half-century (though the paper continues on), we had a mini-reunion.

Being the PR guy now, I shot photos as well as videos that you can find on one of my YouTube channels.

So, if nothing else, I suppose this post is my Valentine’s greeting to all of those who played such an instrumental part in my years at The Courier-News–the few who remain and the many who have gone on to other endeavors.

Page 1 Ads Signal Tough Economic Times

About 12 years ago, while I was on the news staff at The Courier News in Elgin, Ill., the newspaper began placing advertisements on Page 1. For what felt like months on end, we hawked a chance to win a free Daewoo.

I didn’t like it at all. The “journalism purist” in me feared we had crossed the line and, by doing so, had diminished our credibility. In short, I felt we had “sold out.”

Today, as advertising is a commonplace sight on the front page and as I near the 10-year mark of self-employment, I have a more sympathetic take on things: my paper was simply trying to do what it could to make ends meet.

That’s certainly the case with no less an institution than the New York Times, which recently began offering Page 1 ads for $75,000 a pop and even more on weekends, according to the New York Post.

Desperate economic times call for desperate measures.