Column: Support local news in Elmhurst to keep news local

The view out the window of The Elmhurst Titan office in downtown Elmhurst may not be very scenic, but it's undeniably local. (Elmhurst Titan photo by Dave Lemery)

ELMHURST – Maybe you’ve noticed, maybe you haven’t, that some larger news entities have taken an interest in Elmhurst lately.

In a way, that’s a good thing. It shows that Elmhurst is worth taking an interest in. I’m here for probably many of the same reasons that the bigshots have rolled into town – there’s more news happening than the city’s older media outlets have been able to keep up with, there’s a thriving business community, there’s an engaged base of residents, there’s a thriving arts community and high-performing schools. All in all, Elmhurst is a great place to cover local news. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

The problem with the big boys casting their eyes in our direction is that they can bring resources to bear that can drive attention away from truly local sources.

More news is always better. But do you really trust big-city news entities that have suddenly taken an interest to keep that up indefinitely?

“Wait,” you might ask, “why is that bad? Wouldn’t it be better to have a super-sized news operation flooding the streets of Elmhurst with reporters, rather than the alternative?”

Well, sure, that part is great. More news is always better. But do you really trust big-city news entities that have suddenly taken an interest to keep that up indefinitely? Some of these outfits have been in Elmhurst before. What guarantee is there that they won’t lose interest and move onto something else again in a couple months or years?

It would be wise to remember the example of the Elmhurst Patch. Launched a few years back with a full-time journalist based in Elmhurst, almost overnight it became the best online news source for this city. And that was great while it lasted. But that journalist had to answer to corporate masters who were orchestrating a vast, national network of Patch sites – and unfortunately, they didn’t know what they were doing. Fast forward to today, the Elmhurst Patch still exists, most likely one of a dozen or more Patch sites under the purview of some poor overworked and underpaid editor who doesn’t even have the option of coming into town to cover a story.

Or consider the day last week when the Virgil family took down their backyard hoop house, which had been in the news so much in recent months. I was there, and a TV station cameraman and reporter were there. I stayed until the hoop house was taken down entirely; the TV crew left when it was only halfway down. I wrote a full-length story and posted a detailed video of the process of the house’s dismantling; the TV station aired a short snippet of video once or twice that you can’t even find online. Who took that story more seriously? Who had the local perspective on it? I don’t mean to castigate the TV folks, they probably had to do several other stories that day, all over the Chicago area. The hoop house was my top news for that day.

Now, I’m not saying don’t consume the news produced by these larger companies. But don’t forget that to guarantee a future for local news here in Elmhurst, the best thing you can do is click on Elmhurst Titan stories, share Elmhurst Titan postings on social media, get the word out that there’s a truly 100 percent local news operation here in town.

In my journalism career, I’ve worked for companies small, medium and large. One thing always held true – the bigger the company, the easier it was for people at the top to make decisions that abandoned certain sets of customers if they thought it made sense for the bottom line. And, at best, that’s what you are to them – customers. Not readers, not friends, not neighbors. They have no moral imperative to help make Elmhurst better. They have a moral imperative to make money. Today, they think the best way to make money is to cover Elmhurst news. Tomorrow, it might be something completely different.

That's an Elmhurst address on my business card. Not every journalist covering the city can claim the same.
That’s an Elmhurst address on my business card. Not every journalist covering the city can claim the same.

I’ve only been running The Elmhurst Titan for about a month now, so maybe I’m not the ideal conduit for this message. But remember that there is no Villa Park Titan, there’s no Oak Brook Titan, there’s no Addison or Bensenville Titan. And even if I was fortunate enough to be able to grow into more communities in some distant future, you can rely on this ironclad promise – such growth would never be at the expense of Elmhurst.

Elmhurst is my number one priority today, my number one priority tomorrow, and my number one priority far into the future. You can take that to the bank.

Dave Lemery is the editor and publisher of The Elmhurst Titan. New tips, advice and all other inquiries are welcome at or 331-209-8471.