While many newspapers are cutting back covering local stories, laying off staff, and closing their doors, THE ELM GROVE NEWS-INDEPENDENT is proving there is a need for a community newspaper. After spending a number of years as a reporter and columnist, Lisabeth Passalis-Bain decided to start her own newspaper, wearing many hats as publisher, editor, lead writer, and even personally handling circulation.
Lisabeth sat down with Libby Collins on this week’s episode of WTMJ Conversations.
Listen in the player above.
A portion of the conversation was transcribed below, courtesy of eCourt Reporters, Inc.
LIBBY COLLINS: How did you end up with the Elm Grove News-Independent?
LISABETH PASSALIS-BAIN: Well, here’s the thing, you know, when I no longer was a columnist and sometimes reporter and sometimes photographer for those community newspapers, when that ended at the end of 2007, they decided to just — all the — no more columnists, we’re, you know, downsizing the different newspapers, different things. They just got rid of all of us. So, then for a while, I wrote probably other types of things, maybe freelance, but I was thinking, you know, what if I ever did a newspaper, what would it look like? And I actually — and I still have it, of course, I have a one-page sheet of “this is what my newspaper would look like.”
LIBBY COLLINS: A mockup.
LISABETH PASSALIS-BAIN: A mockup, well, not — now just, actually, a sheet of paper with it would have this and this and this and this. Like, it would have governmental information, things like what goes on at your community board or trustees or your common council, whatever. So, you’ve gotta have that, that’s really important to a community, what goes on, the issues and things.
Then how about history? So, history of a community.
How about things like a calendar of events?
And then you want to include things like how about clubs and organizations, schools and churches? All these different things, you know.
So, I had a sense of I know I’ve written for papers all these years. I know when I was a kid and much younger, I know what a newspaper should be. And what I saw was things just dwindling down. Newspapers were just getting rid of a lot of these important features. Bigger papers were definitely getting rid of local coverage, and that’s where I came in.
And so, by 2010, there was some people I was consulting with, whatever, but ultimately, we gave it a try. We just said, “Let’s do this.”
And the reason it’s called Elm Grove News-Independent, I wanted to be very clear that it is my paper. It’s — I literally started from nothing. I started from blank pages and have put in all those elements. And I wanted people to understand that it was an independent publication. People have asked me, I don’t know how many times, “Did you buy out a paper? Did you do this and that?” And I go, “No, no, no, I started from nothing,” and — well, I didn’t start from nothing, I started from a blank page, but I started with years of experience