Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Celebrating 'CDN'

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Celebrating 'CDN'

Article excerpt

Chicago tough guys turn tender in saluting Margaret Whitesides, publisher and editor of a lively, long-run alumni newsletter

Every month, 90-year-old Margaret Whitesides puts together a sprightly newsletter and sends it worldwide to some 300 alumni of the now-defunct Chicago Daily News. She does it on the same Smith Corona manual typewriter she used for almost 50 years at the paper, where she was an editorial assistant to seven city editors. That illustrious daily won 15 Pulitzer Prizes before Field Enterprises shut it down March 4, 1978, after 102 years of operation.

Considered the only publication of its kind to have run so long, the "CDN Alumni Newsletter" is mostly written and financially supported by its readers, who mail regular letters full of news to their dainty editor.

And that's why, when 90 members of that group gathered for their annual reunion May 20 at Chicago's Como Inn, they surprised Whitesides with a party to celebrate her 90th birthday May 31.

Says Larry Green, a Daily News reporter and foreign correspondent and a Chicago Sun-Times editor and executive before becoming publisher of Hollinger International's Pioneer Press: "She's the best editor any reporter could have. She never changes a word of anyone's copy."

All the newsletter contributors are as devoted to the publication as to its editor, who never married and lives in a condo in Clarendon Hills, Ill., with brother Bill, 78. He helps her stuff envelopes for each issue.

Whitesides grew up in Oak Park, Ill., and in 1928, after high-school graduation, she became a secretary in the advertising department of the Daily News. Occasionally, she was sent to the cityroom to take dictation from the editor, and, in 1943, after World War II depleted the news department's almost all-male staff, Whitesides became the second woman to serve as the city editor's editorial assistant. Although editors changed seven times, she remained at her watch 34 years.

"If I get to where I send only one Christmas card each year, it will be to Margaret with a newsy note," comments Ed Rooney, a longtime Chicago police reporter. After the paper folded, Rooney earned bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees at Chicago's Loyola University, then taught journalism there until his recent retirement.

Among the Daily News veterans who traveled to Chicago for the event were Washington-based syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer and Pulitzer Prize-winner Bill Eaton. …

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