My deep appreciation for the newspaper began with my immigrant parents.
My parents immigrated to the United States from South Korea when I was four years old. They weren’t educated or wealthy, but they did spend whatever life savings they had to deliver me and my three half-siblings (from my dad’s first marriage) to the “promised land” where dreams turn into reality.
We were sponsored by my father’s sister, my aunt, who had married an American in the service and hailed from the Appalachian foothills in North Carolina, so there our family went.
My parents took the only jobs available to them without English language skills in the predominant local industry – furniture factories. My dad worked in the plant that turned raw lumber into tables and chairs and my mother cleaned bathrooms. It was dirty, hard work. I remember seeing my father covered in grime and wood dust at the end of the day.
Looking back, I think about how much they struggled and am fascinated by what they chose to spend their hard-earned money on. One of those choices included, subscribing to the newspaper. Receiving the newspaper was something they were really proud of and symbolized something greater.
For my parents, the paper stood for all the freedoms they wanted so desperately to engage in and their hopes for their children. It meant being informed and educated. It meant being learned or striving to become more. They could barely read it, but we would always subscribe. As I grew up, I would read it to them.
The newspaper has always held a hallowed place in my heart and mind because of the reverence my parents felt. To me, I have equated reading the paper with responsible citizenship, pretty close to voting. It’s our duty to be as informed as much as we can be, to seek out the truth and to care about where we live. A simple way to start, is to read the paper, whether online or the foldable hard copy.
The city of Chicago has given me a chance to live my “American Dream” in a way that I could have never imagined. I know how incredibly lucky I am. I was a late bloomer and this city of broad shoulders gave me a second chance to figure out who I am, what I’m good at and to refocus my dream. I am hoping it can do the same for a much older citizen, the Chicago Sun-Times.
While I am a new voice on the roster and cover entertainment, I can’t imagine a Chicago without Lynn Sweet, Mary Mitchell, Mark Brown, Michael Sneed or Neil Steinberg, just to name a few. I can’t imagine Chicago without all of the Sun-Times local reporters, who literally pound the streets and develop life-long relationships and sources so they can get that insider tip to a breaking story.
It’s frightening to think about how American society has turned its back on journalism, relegating it to “fake” work, to assume that it doesn’t take money or dedicated people. I fear we’ve become a society so focused on immediate gratification, that we don’t have the vision to calculate the damage that such near-sightedness has on our futures.
I do need journalists to seek out the truth because honestly, as a mere mortal, sometimes I don’t know how to begin to get to the bottom of what’s going on. And to do that, takes energy, time (sometimes months and years) and resources. This is for the betterment of all and a hallmark of democracy and especially the most disenfranchised in our society and every-day voices.
Chicago deserves more than one major newspaper. When I worked in a television newsroom, the assignment editors would pore over the papers to make sure a story wasn’t missed or for a local lead or features story. All of the local news outlets that disseminate information co-exist in an intricate ecosystem in our city and the disappearance of the Chicago Sun-Times would most certainly offset the balance of this dance.
I’m new to working for the paper and mostly here to work on the new digital platform but I’ve always valued the Chicago Sun-Times. I’m honored to work here. It’s helped to fulfill my American dream. I know if the Chicago Sun-Times disappears it would really affect the fabric of that dream for everyone in Chicago, whether they realize it or not.
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