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Wednesday Journal publications taking leap into nonprofit model


Publisher Dan Haley, left, talks with reporters about coverage expectations during an editorial meeting for the transition to Growing Community Media on Oct. 16 at the Wednesday Journal, Inc. office in Oak Park. (Photo by Alex Rogals/ Wednesday Journal staff photographer)

‘Moment’ of change results in formation of nonprofit to own four Chicago area weeklies


Illinois Press Association


OAK PARK – Has Dan Haley’s journalism career come full circle, or are he and the newspapers he publishes embarking on something new, uncertain and invigorating?

Well, both, actually.

Haley is editor and publisher of four weekly newspapers. Three are in near west suburban Chicago – Wednesday Journal in Oak Park, Forest Park Review, and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark. The Austin Weekly News is on Chicago’s West Side.

Like most newspapers large and small, daily and weekly, the papers Haley publishes have struggled in recent years. Ten years ago, Wednesday Journal Inc. published nine weekly newspapers and Chicago Parent Magazine. There were about 75 people working on those publications.

Today, about 20 employees work from a cozy second-floor newsroom and offices that are in a downtown Oak Park building that serves as the company’s home base. They continue to write what Haley describes as intensely local, community journalism. They continue to be among the better weekly newspapers in the state – Austin Weekly News and Wednesday Journal Group finished second and third, respectively in the Division C sweepstakes of the 2018 Illinois Press Association Editorial Contest; the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark placed third in Division A.

But revenue has lagged, enough that Haley announced in September what many would consider a radical business decision. It was, as Haley calls it, a “moment” when something needed to change.

“The last few years have been really hard,” Haley said.

That decision? The four newspapers will soon operate under a nonprofit model. By the end of the year, Wednesday Journal Inc. will be dissolved and the four newspapers will be owned by a nonprofit organization being formed called Growing Community Media. Financial donations and sponsorships will be sought, and digital subscriptions will be sold. Wednesday Journal Inc. also sold Chicago Parent Magazine.

Haley said the goal is for 30 percent to 40 percent of the funding for the print and digital operations to come from philanthropic donations to the nonprofit. Advertising will continue to be sold, as will print subscriptions. Haley said print advertising revenue has declined in recent years, but not by a lot. “Print advertising started to stabilize at the beginning of this year,” he said.


Michael Romain, editor of Austin Weekly News, Village Free Press and reporter for Wednesday Journal, works on a story Oct. 10, at the Growing Community Media office on Oak Park Avenue in Oak Park. (Photo by Alex Rogals/ Wednesday Journal staff photographer)


Attorneys continue to guide the company through the process of “unspooling” the for-profit entity. “All assets of Wednesday Journal Inc. will go into the nonprofit and Wednesday Journal Inc. will go into the history books,” Haley said.

Haley said the nonprofit business model was chosen after more than a year of discussions and exploration that included attending last year’s Institute for Nonprofit News convention in Houston.

“Our roots are deep in our communities,” Haley said. “If anyone could pull this off, it might be us.”

In many ways, Haley is at the same point of his career as he was when he and two others started publishing newspapers in the west-side neighborhoods he grew up in.

“We were about six months into Wednesday Journal back in 1980 and the money we'd raised was running out,” Haley wrote in his announcement to readers on Sept. 11. “The check to the printer the previous week had bounced — not by much but it bounced — and now the printer wanted a certified check before he'd print the next issue.

“That was a moment. And I remember thinking as a chastened 24-year-old, ‘This is the greatest job ever but, Dan, you don't have a God-given right to publish this newspaper. Figure it out. Make this work.’”

So, he and his business partners went out and sought shareholders to buy stock in Wednesday Journal Inc. They found about 60 people to make investments in relatively small amounts, most around $1,000. That gave the startup company enough financial runway to get off the ground.


Andy Mead, editorial designer, works at his desk Oct. 10 at the Growing Community Media office on Oak Park Avenue in Oak Park. (Photo by Alex Rogals/ Wednesday Journal staff photographer)


During our interview in his Oak Park office, Haley made repeated references to a printed sheet with a promotional advertisement from 1980 that displayed the names of each of the papers’ investors. Today, there remains 14 shareholders, including Haley and his wife, Mary.

“It feels like we’ve come full circle,” Haley said of the company’s current status. “… We’d reached another moment when we knew we were going to have to do something different if we were going to survive.”

While nonprofit journalism has been booming in recent years, Haley said he’s not aware of any other weekly newspapers employing the nonprofit approach. Most nonprofits, he pointed out, are digital-only products, and there a few daily print product examples nationally.

Haley and others have begun reaching out to community organizations and individuals to make their pitch. That pitch, essentially, is that the West Side neighborhoods are full of very worthy nonprofit entities that are important to the community. “At the end of the conversation … we ask, ‘Where would a nonprofit community journalism project fit in your rankings of worthy entities?”

The responses so far, Haley said, have been “gratifying.”

“Oak Park would not be the same place if the Wednesday Journal had not been here the past 40 years.”

But something else interesting has happened, said Dawn Ferencak, the papers’ associate publisher and chief revenue officer who leads the ad sales efforts.

“I think our advertisers now see us as more of a community partner than they did before,” she said. “By sharing our message, they have a deeper respect for what we do for the community and what we mean to the community.”


Marc Stopeck, Answer Book editor, works at his desk Oct. 10 at the Growing Community Media office on Oak Park Avenue in Oak Park.  (Photo by Alex Rogals/ Wednesday Journal staff photographer)


That’s a message Haley encourages other publishers to spread in their own communities. What would his message be to others who might consider a nonprofit or hybrid model?

“To most people in our situation, I would say face the reality that our model is broken,” he said. “There was a process I went through of saying, ‘It’s not your fault, Dan. The world changed around you, and now you have to adapt to it.

“Accept the reality, have faith in your community that they will see the value in the work you’ve done over time. … You have a foundation of readership and advertisers, you are in great shape. Be proud of the asset that has been built, and that take that asset in a new way.”

In fact, Haley plans on continuing to build on that asset by sharpening the focus of coverage on the “normalcy” of life in the seven communities his papers serve. He thinks the new model will actually allow him to add staff and reporting beats. And, given the feedback she’s received from advertisers, Ferencak is projecting an increase in ad revenues.

“There’s an enormous positive energy,” Haley said. “It’s invigorating.”


The editorial staff listens to Dan Haley, the publisher, go over material Oct. 16 during an editorial meeting for the transition to Growing Community Media at the Wednesday Journal, Inc. office in Oak Park. (Photo by Alex Rogals/ Wednesday Journal staff photographer)

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Press Releases




Contact Information:
Laura L. Scarry
(630) 690-2800 ext. 102
Email: lscarry@deanoscarry.com

Village of Crestwood agrees to pay $1.8 million
to five former police officers

The Village of Crestwood Board of Trustees at its Thursday board meeting approved a $1.8 million settlement in a civil rights lawsuit filed by five former Village of Crestwood police officers against the village, former mayor, the chief of police and several other high-ranking village police officials.

Former part-time officers Don Preston, Joseph Cortesi, Gilbert Hueramo III and Eric Chmura; and full-time officer Robert Hoselton, filed a federal lawsuit alleging they were fired or not reappointed, forced to resign, or brought up on disciplinary charges within days of each other in October 2019 because of their efforts to unionize the village’s police officers. They filed suit against the village Chief of Police David Weigand, Deputy Chief David Alexander, Lt. Rich Wyman, Lt. Chris Spencer, Sgt. Michael Coutre, former Village of Crestwood Mayor Lou Presta, the Village Board of Fire and Police  Commissioners, and current or former Commissioners Rob Lyons, Frank Caldario, Joseph Zangara and James Fowler.

In 2019 members of the village’s police department sought to unionize the part-time and full-time officers. On Aug. 1, 2019, the Illinois Labor Relations Board certified the Illinois Council of Police (ICOPS) as the exclusive bargaining unit for the part-time officers.

The lawsuit alleges the village and the other defendants engaged in a campaign of intimidation, threats and coercion against Preston, Cortesi, Hueramo, Chmura, Hoselton, and other village police officers in an effort to “bust” the union and intimidate officers who supported the union. Three months after the union was certified, Preston, Cortesi, Hueramo and Chmura were either terminated, forced to resign or not re-appointed, and Hoselton was brought up on disciplinary charges and later terminated by the Village’s Board of Fire and Police Commissioners.

The lawsuit, Don Preston et al. v. David Weigand et al., Case No. 20-CV-4272, was filed in the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois. At the time of settlement, no trial date had been  scheduled. Preston, Cortesi, Hueramo, Chmura and Hoselton were represented by Laura L. Scarry of DeAno & Scarry, LLC, Chicago, Illinois. 




Contact Information:
Claire Craig Evans, author
(309) 258-3862
Email: claire@teawithclaire.com

Peoria author releases new humorous travel memoir
Evans' debut book explores the comic side of moving to the UK

PEORIA — Claire Craig Evans, a former journalist and lawyer turned virtual presenter on UK culture, food, and history for libraries nationwide, will be launching High Tea and the Low Down: An American’s Unfiltered Life in the UK on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023.

Evans’ book chronicles the story of how she meets her English husband in Peoria, Illinois, and their move to the UK. She anticipates “a green and pleasant adventure” on an “enchanted island where somewhat mysterious women with dewy complexions made jam in thatched cottages.” But moving transatlantic proved easy compared to the unexpected yet amusing culture clash that awaited her.

“Now that we don’t have new episodes of 'Ted Lasso' to look forward to, someone has to fill the void of laughable Americans confused by British culture,” Evans says. “I wrote the book I wanted to read on my first flight to Heathrow.”

Trade Reviews:

A lively transcontinental adventure teeming with clever humor and cross-cultural insights… Evans’ prose is breezy, lighthearted, and affably chatty, which elevates her account of her British adventures above the typical cross-cultural narrative. Her generous personal anecdotes will bring joy and solidarity to readers who have experienced the same bewilderment after relocating to a new country. The narrative includes amusing stories of losing her luggage on her way to meet Ben’s parents; passing the infamous 24-question “Life in the UK” immigration exam; navigating the language barrier (despite speaking English); and surviving a hilarious UK driving test. – Kirkus Reviews

"[A] hilarious and heartwarming read." – Midwest Book Review

"High Tea and the Low Down" will be available in ebook and paperback formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most other online print and ebook retailers. During its presale, it has been ranked the #1 New Release in England Travel on Amazon and is currently the #1 selling Great Britain Travel paperback carried by its distributor, IngramSpark. It is also available for order from independent bookstores. The audiobook will be available on Sept. 5, 2023.


For more information on Claire:
Since starting her speaking business five years ago, Claire Craig Evans has given more than 300 presentations inspired by her life in the UK to libraries and civic groups throughout the United States, Canada, and the UK. She grew up in Springfield, Illinois, and has also lived in Normal and Urbana. Aside from her UK years, she’s spent a majority of the past 20 years in Peoria. Visit www.teawithclaire.com for more details.





Contact Information:
Illinois Pharmacists Association
Garth Reynolds

National Community Pharmacists Association
Andie Pivarunas

IPhA, NCPA Cheer Illinois law reining in PBM retaliation 

HB3631 protects freedom of speech and promotes transparency into PBM business practices

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Pharmacists Association and the National Community Pharmacists Association are applauding a new law in Illinois that prohibits retaliation by pharmacy benefit managers against pharmacists and pharmacies for disclosing information to courts, hearings, legislative commissions, law enforcement or other government agencies if there is reasonable cause to believe the disclosed information is evidence of violation of a state or federal law, rule, or regulation. HB3631, which was led by Rep. Hoan Huynh (D) and Sen. Mike Simmons (D), was signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker (D) on Aug. 4, 2023. It has an effective date of July 1, 2023.

The top three PBMs control 80 percent of the market, and decide what medicines patients can take, where they must get them, and how much they pay. In recent years, they have leveraged their market power to implement abusive policies and practices that pad their profits at the expense of patients and pharmacies. Pharmacists who speak out oftentimes experience retaliation measures from PBMs that can include an exponential increase in audits, refusal to access future contracts and removal from preferred provider networks, among other punishments.

“PBMs for too long have been weaponizing contracting and auditing tactics to essentially force pharmacists into silence,” says Garth Reynolds, RPh, executive director of IPhA. “There’s more work to do to truly rein in these middlemen, but with HB3631, we can more freely share with government representatives how PBM policies harm pharmacy practice and our patients. IPhA is grateful to Rep. Huynh and Sen. Simmons for their leadership and support, and to Gov. Pritzker for signing this important bill into law.”

“For a marketplace to be free and healthy, there must be competition and transparency. PBMinsurers are fighting against both, even as policymakers at all levels of government look to crack down on business practices that stifle patient choice and disadvantage independent pharmacies,” says Joel Kurzman, director of state government affairs at NCPA. “This legislation is a great step forward in Illinois. Further PBM reforms and aggressive enforcement of policies like this one will be crucial if patients and taxpayers are to see the difference.”


About IPhA
The Illinois Pharmacists Association is dedicated to enhancing the professional competency of pharmacists, advancing the standards of pharmacy practice, improving pharmacists’ effectiveness in assuring rational drug use in society, and leading in the resolution of public policy issues affecting pharmacists. IPhA was founded in 1880. To learn more, visit ipha.org |@ILPharmacists.

About NCPA
Founded in 1898, the National Community Pharmacists Association is the voice for the community pharmacist, representing over 19,400 pharmacies that employ nearly 240,000 individuals nationwide. Community pharmacies are rooted in the communities where they are located and are among America's most accessible health care providers. To learn more, visit www.ncpa.org.





Contact Information:
MedGenyx, PLLC
Theresa Johnson

MedGenyx enhances pharmacists' role as medication experts 

URBANA - MedGenyx, a leading provider of pharmacogenomic test interpretation in Illinois, announces the launch of its services. MedGenyx pharmacists provide comprehensive medication review services and pharmacogenomic (PGx) test analysis. PGx tests help determine the safest and most effective medications based on a person’s DNA.  

MedGenyx can facilitate these services in a variety of settings, including implementing PGx testing programs for prescribers, long term care facilities, and direct-to-consumer PGx testing for the individual client seeking answers to their medication concerns.
MedGenyx can cater to the needs of busy prescribing health care professionals that want to implement PGx testing to enhance their clinical decision-making processes. Pharmacists, certified in pharmacogenomics, walk patients through the testing process, from education, to a simple buccal swab, to making medication recommendations, to follow-up consultations.
The launch of MedGenyx comes at a crucial time when the demand for reliable medical information has never been greater. With the rapid development of medical treatments and technologies, the need for accessible and trustworthy medical resources has become even more critical. Pharmacists, as medication experts, are poised to step into this space and collaborate with prescribers to offer the latest in PGx capabilities.
"MedGenyx was developed to address the growing need to get medications, strengths and dosages right the first time, utilizing PGx testing. These tests can ultimately save time and money, both of which are in short supply in healthcare settings today,” said Theresa Johnson, Founder and CEO of MedGenyx. “MedGenyx pharmacists want to collaborate with prescribers to improve patient treatment outcomes in all types of health care settings.” 

MedGenyx is committed to delivering accurate and reliable medication recommendations based on the cutting-edge science of pharmacogenomics.



Contact Information:
Craig Baumberger

Biplanes and balloons over Greenville, Illinois 

Greenville Airport will have its Airstravaganza event from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 16. Plans include: open house with pancake breakfast, biplane rides in a Waco UPF-7 or Stearman, as well as rides in Cessna 172. Weather permitting, Brad Haege, balloonist from Nashville, Illinois, plans to be in attendance with his hot air balloon. Static displays will include Wings of Hope from Spirit of St Louis Airport with info on its mission of providing aircraft for medical and mission assistance worldwide. Also, medical evacuation helicopters from Air Evac and Air Methods will be on the ramp as well as equipment from local volunteer fire departments.

Kevin Kegin's American Warbird will be flying biplane rides of 20 minutes in a Waco for $250. You can also contact Kevin to schedule a flight in a North American T-6, $500 for 30 minutes or longer flights if desired. For additional info and schedule: amwarbird@earthlink.net, www.americanwarbird.com, 314-809-7101.

For info on hot air balloon rides call Brad Haege, balloonist from Nashville, Illinois, at 618-410-6030.

For info on Stearman and Cessna 172 rides, call 618-322-3532.
Pilots flying in will receive one free pancake breakfast per aircraft and be eligible for a $20 discount on fuel purchased on the day of event in addition to being entered in a drawing for $250 of free fuel to be awarded on the day of the event.

For additional info, contact Craig Baumberger at 618-322-3532 or craigbaumberger@yahoo.com.





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