Newspapers in a New Light

January 2024 View more

‘Beacons in the Darkness: Hope and Transformation Among America’s Community Newspapers’ by Dave Hoekstra

Back in the early ’70s, when Naperville was still a small town, Dave Hoekstra began his journalism career as editor of the Naperville Central High School newspaper and a stringer for the Naperville bureau of the Aurora Beacon News. His love for small-town newspapers stayed with him throughout his career, which included a 30-year stint at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Dave Hoekstra

In his latest book, Beacons in the Darkness: Hope and Transformation Among America’s Community Newspapers, Hoekstra takes a deep dive into the disappearing world of family-run newspapers. “You look at these small towns, and it’s kind romantic to me,” he says. “Smaller operations have more of a human touch. They aren’t in it for the money. They are in it for the community and the common good.”

Hoekstra traveled across the country interviewing small family-run and community newspapers. In the book he describes the challenges they have faced in the midst of buyouts, declining revenues, fake news, and the pandemic. “The book has a lot of themes, but at the end of the day it’s a hopeful book. It’s about thinking outside the box and taking chances,” he explains. “I try to put a positive spin on a bleak industry.”


Photo: Agate Publishing Inc.