After 102 Years, We’re Ready for the 20th Century

commentary editorial opinion

Thursday, June 30, 2011, started out like any other during the previous six months or so: Sword of Damocles hanging over my head as I tried to focus on putting out the next edition of the Naperville Sun.

It was, of course, a figurative sword; unfortunately, not a cream pie coming loose from the ceiling as in the Three Stooges’ “Hoi Polloi.” That would have been cool.

Nick Reiher

I had seen a lot better journalists than me axed during that previous year, which made sense, because the newspaper group eliminated 12 weekly newspapers, some that had been around for decades. But they needed the money because the IRS, as we hear on commercials, really wants their share, which is only fair to the rest of us who do pay our taxes.

For the five or six years before that, our local newspaper group, including the Herald News, had been flying with new websites. Thanks to former talented photographer-turned IT guru Steve Sumner, we had a system where we could write a story, have it edited and then up on the website within minutes.

It was exhilarating. Kind of like getting a Herald News “hot off the press” onsite after we had just finished editing it. But only we in the building could see it; not everyone from here to … everywhere.

All of that went away for me that day in June 2011 when the Big Boss came in and laid me off, along with most of the other managing editors.

Skip ahead several months of applying for jobs online (that really sucks, as many of you know) when I heard around the holidays from a couple friends that Farmers Weekly Review was looking for some help.

I was hired. We changed many things in those first few years. But still no social media outreach. … Until around August 2016 when publisher Michael Cleary shocked the beejeebers out of me by saying he had created a Farmers Weekly Facebook page.

Oh, and I needed to have a personal page so that I could be an administrator on the newspaper’s page. To say that has been a mixed blessing …

I have been able to reconnect with many family and friends who communicate only by Facebook these days. Great recipes. Horrible puns. Cute kids and pets. And, of course, posting the latest breaking news on both my pages.

But … this also was August of TWENTY SIXTEEN. After years of fomenting discord, our country would indeed become divisible. And social media was a frequent, bloody battleground.

As longtime friend and now-fellow Kiwanian J.D. Ross recently told me, I was something on Facebook in those days. I believed I had to correct every claim proven false by credible sources. Because, that has been my job for several decades.

Oh, to have a website where I could share stories, columns, events and other stuff without stepping foot on the Facebook battlefield. But as I mentioned recently, COVID nearly put us out of business. Not a good time for a website, although it certainly could have helped.

Now, thanks to a system made nearly as easy as what we had courtesy of Sumner’s coding, we have an affordable website. As Michael mentioned in his Page 1 column, we will be keeping the print edition as well. (It also burns clean when starting charcoal grills and chimeneas).

So, go to fwrnews.com and check it out. Let me know what you think. By all means, let me know if something will need to be corrected.

Unless it is a breaking news story, you’ll have to wait until the publication date of the paper to see the updates. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be fair to the print subscribers.

Speaking of which, after much thought, we decided not to charge extra for access to the website. Log on as often as you like.

We hope you enjoy our webpage. We did it for you, and for us.

We’re partners in the community, after all. Have been for 102 years.

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