Dear Mike [Miner]:

Gregory Mellis did not conceive and launch the Sun papers [Hot Type, May 25]. The flagship Naperville Sun has been around for 50 or 60 years, and fell into Copley’s hands only 10 years ago, along with the rest of the Sun chain. It’s thrice weekly and definitely not free: I have to buy it newsstand or subscription. Ditto for the Lisle, Downers Grove, and Bolingbrook Suns, all of which were in these parts long before Mellis arrived. Mellis may have added some nameplates to the chain, but he sure didn’t start it. Somebody fed you a line of blarney.

As for the Suns’ admittedly great photojournalism–it really is spectacular at times–it comes at the expense of news coverage and judgment. One particularly troubling for-instance: back in 1999, around Thanksgiving, the courts finally authorized release of the full transcripts of the 911 tapes where Marilyn Lemak told the cops she’d just killed her three children. Huge, huge news. The Sun ignored it. I called to ask why, and the then city editor told me, “We just didn’t want to upset people right now. It’s the holidays and Christmas is coming and the community is planning a really nice millennium party and all. Maybe we’ll do something after the holidays are over, or maybe when her trial starts next year…”

And of course, never did.

That, unfortunately, is what still passes for news judgment at the Sun papers: ignore the harsh realities and maybe they’ll go away. I’d trade all the color spreads in the world for some editors with guts and a few more reporters. I believe they have only seven or eight reporters to cover the entire city of 120,000, which is why, among other things, they rely on the wire services to cover the ongoing crisis at Naperville’s biggest employer, Lucent Technologies…

Sigh. Rantlet over. Love your column.

Shane Gericke


Michael Miner replies:

Copley bought a group of paid-circulation papers in Naperville, Lisle, and Bolingbrook from a local owner in 1991. The only one of these papers to remain more or less as Copley found it is the Naperville Sun, which was and is published three times a week and has a cover price. The other 13 papers in the Sun group are free weeklies. Some evolved from the papers Copley bought in 1991 but most were launched from scratch. Mellis is largely responsible for putting this group together.