Thank you, Northbrook, for helping us reach a milestone
A year ago today, I was excited -- and perhaps a little terrified -- to start my workday.
From the beginning, it was certainly an ambitious undertaking: Create two new weekly newspapers in towns we hadn't covered at the Daily Herald -- at the height of a global pandemic when we couldn't really go out and meet people or get to know the towns as we would have in The Before Times.
(In fact, Glenbrook staffers wouldn't even all be in the same room together until just a week ago).
Plus, we all essentially had to learn new jobs: Reporter Dave Oberhelman had been covering prep sports for more than 20 years; now he'd be making a quick pivot to covering school and municipal boards.
Joe Lewnard, a photographer for almost 30 years, would be adding much more writing and reporting to his duties than he'd ever done.
I'd been working on the Daily Herald's night desk as a copy editor and page designer for more than a decade. I'd never officially supervised anyone or put together an entire section myself from scratch.
Ad rep Gail Eisenberg was brand new to the Herald, coming over from the recently shuttered 22nd Century Media newspapers. She didn't know any of us or how we worked.
Of course, the biggest challenge was how to make ourselves relevant and helpful in two well-established communities without barreling in and, as I called it, "Daily Herald-splaining" Glenview and Northbrook to residents who had been there much longer than us meddling kids.
You know about your towns; we don't need to tell you who your notable residents are or where to find the "Save Ferris" water tower.
It's daunting to think about now, seeing it all on paper.
But a year ago, we were pretty sure about two things, thanks to our combined experiences at the Daily Herald and elsewhere: People love hyperlocal news, and there are always stories to tell.
Just like the rest of you, we have our own version of the "2020, AMIRITE?" story, and it's not one about a smooth journey from Point A to Point B.
There were long days and all-nighters, eleventy billion meetings via Zoom, nightmare headline typos, heroic "gets," and emails, texts and frantic phone calls after normal work hours and on weekends between each other and from people we were covering.
And speaking of what and whom we covered, it's been quite a year.
We chronicled how Glenview and Northbrook were affected by the pandemic and adjusted to a new normal.
We learned all about hybrid school schedules vs. 100% virtual learning vs. full in-person classes (and how pretty much all of you feel about each option!)
We met the heroes who emerged from the virus, including the ones at Glenbrook Hospital, where NorthShore University HealthSystem sent nearly all its COVID-19 cases.
Of course, the news wasn't all coronavirus, all the time: We covered the murder of Elias Valdez, a rising sophomore wrestler at Glenbrook South, and the sudden death of Dylan Buckner, a star student-athlete at Glenbrook North. We saw police investigate a possible lead in a cold missing person case from 1982 and wrote about state musical theater honors, a Holocaust survivor's unique story, good deeds, bad actors, and the return of Leonard's Bakery's beloved recipes at the Once Upon eateries.
We had in-depth coverage of local candidates in both the fall 2020 and spring 2021 elections, including conducting endorsement interviews with six people in the general election and nearly 30 in the consolidated election.
We wrote about so many of District 225's students and also its alumni, including EDM legend Kaskade (Ryan Raddon, GBN '89) who headlined virtual Lollapalooza in 2020 and is topping the Friday night lineup at North Coast Labor Day weekend, and another Northbrook native, Jon Scheyer (GBN '06) who will be taking over what's arguably the biggest job in men's college basketball: Head coach at Duke University, starting in the 2022-23 season.
We all had our own take-aways, too: Joe was surprised that his interest in writing and reporting, mostly shelved since J-school, had only grown during 30 years taking photos. He also has taken on a more active role in his day-to-day and is helping decide what gets covered and ultimately makes it into the paper. After all those years of daily deadlines, Joe says he finds weekly work equally rewarding.
Dave not only started covering an entirely new beat (while also still taking the lead in our sports coverage) but said he also enjoyed seeing high school and college students so civically engaged -- organizing political rallies and protests, and playing significant roles in Glenview's Fire Station 13 staying open and in getting school board candidates elected.
As for me, I learned that organization and patience are paramount, and it's important to know when to ask for help. As well, this somewhat shy person who once relished working strictly behind the scenes can actually enjoy talking to (gasp) people on the (gasp) phone and in-person (whaaat?). Most importantly, I learned I could do this job and do it well.
And Gail? She wasn't just another newsroom newbie -- she is the bestie we simply hadn't met yet. She lives in Northbrook, and her institutional knowledge and client relationships have been essential to our success. (we also benefitted in the most delicious way from her side hustle, Gail's Brownies).
We all discovered we had been right, too: You definitely love local news.
You let us know what we were doing right and held us accountable when we didn't hit the mark.
Above all, you welcomed us with open arms -- and for that, we are eternally grateful.
We wouldn't have hit this milestone without you.
Thank you for reading this past year.
Here's to many more!
• Glenbrook editor Melynda Shamie has worked at the Daily Herald for 21 years.