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Updated: March 27, 2012 8:15AM



Dear reader,

We’re glad you’re here. Know it or not, you have a special role in 21st century America: a reader of a local newspaper that connects to a broader world.

That’s an amazing thing for all of us.

Together, as journalists and as readers in a shared partnership, we have an incredible chance to bring light to local issues that matter deeply — and to realize how many of our neighbors are reaching out beyond borders.

Over the past several days, the SouthtownStar has brought you the stories of Frankfort businessman John Shattuck — responsible for shipping more than 16 million in aid to a ravaged Haiti. And how people like Sue and Ken Gross, of Orland Park; or Calei Clark, of Lockport; and Elizabeth Wisnasky, of Tinley Park, have made a difference there.

This paper has told you of the work that’s being done with their donations and work.

At the same time, columnist Phil Kadner brought you analysis of the stranglehold state Democrats have over the Southland and reporter Steve Metsch reported on police in Bridgeview allegedly letting a Chicago woman get a break by not charging her with drunken driving after a crash — even though they believed she had a blood-alcohol content more than three times the legal limit. Recently, reporter Casey Toner exposed questionable payroll checks written in Matteson School District 159, and he has chronicled the loose spending habits of officials in Country Club Hills.

As the editor of this paper, I have read these stories with great pride.

This kind of depth and range in a local newspaper is rare, and it’s powerful.

I didn’t know how rare, perhaps, until I left the SouthtownStar in August for a fellowship at Stanford University to explore the future of news with two dozen journalists from around the world.

That’s a full-time endeavor ­— so I haven’t been involved in making this Haiti coverage happen. I’m a reader now, just like you.

Here at Stanford, I’ve had several people express surprise that a “local newspaper” tells these kinds of stories. I’ve learned that for many, local newspapers signal low-quality newspapers.

But more than ever, I disagree — and get to prove them wrong.

The work done by Donna Vickroy and Matt Marton ­— along with the work done every day to cover the Southland — is important, and it matters. I am proud to get to read it. I hope you are too.

Because this kind of journalism ­— journalism that takes its role as a watchdog, town crier and partner in local life seriously and with great honor — has a proud past and an exciting future.

More and more, that future will be one in which we ask to work directly with you. The era of digital journalism means we get ever-expanding opportunities to communicate and share ideas.

But we’re still here in paper, too, and value the chance to show up at your kitchen table or library. We still like to take your calls and talk face to face.

Mostly though, today, I want to say thank you for supporting the work of your SouthtownStar. It’s important we not just write to you, though. We want to hear from you about the stories that matter in the Southland.

Please, call acting editor Joe Biesk at (708) 633-6706 or email him at jbiesk@southtownstar.com with your ideas. Find us on Facebook. Share our stories.

And keep reading with me.

Sincerely,

Michelle Holmes

michelle.holmes@stanford.edu



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