Bob Uphues, editor of The Landmark, is on vacation this week. Not something that happens very often and it coincides with his 10th anniversary as the editor, chief reporter, and public face of this community newspaper.
And so, clearly hearing his voice saying, “Oh, no. Not going to happen,” I thought I’d take this opportunity to offer a few of my thoughts on what it means to his colleagues to have Bob at the helm of the Landmark and to share some comments from local officials who work with him year after year.
Bob first arrived at our small community publishing company, Wednesday Journal out of Oak Park, a long time back. He was looking for work and I asked him for clips — articles he’d written for other newspapers. He explained he had no clips but had endless term papers and writing assignments in art history and architecture from his multiple tours of duty in grad school. That was good enough for me, and soon Bob was our sports editor and real estate editor, cranking out strong copy and making good connections. He also pitched for the company softball team.
After several years, Bob departed to make some actual money and his loss was acutely felt as he had become the common-sense and ethical leader of our newsroom, running four newspapers.
It took a while, but we managed to hire him back with the promise he could concentrate all his energy on a single paper, The Landmark. That was 10 years ago. And over that decade Bob Uphues has provided constancy and context, essential fairness, an understanding of community and the place of a local publisher in building community.
Says Ben Sells, village president, “Riverside would not be the same without The Landmark, and The Landmark would not be the same without Bob Uphues. For 10 years, Bob’s balanced reporting and insightful editorials have been an integral part of our village’s civic communication.”
From Judy Barr Topinka, who by the way, sold The Landmark to our company a long time back: “Great reporter … straightforward and good on explanations so one puts the story into perspective. I happen to think he is great.”
From Mike Garvey, past president of Brookfield and currently a trustee there, “Obviously The Landmark is the key source of information and newspaper covering Brookfield, no doubt about it. I respect Bob completely as a reporter. He does his homework. He attends the meetings, he reads the packets. He’s very well informed and I mean that sets him apart. … He understands the issues. He’s always been very fair in his reporting and very diligent. He reports the hard news and we appreciate how he covers the events and stories and community events to help promote them.”
While Bob focuses his intense energy on The Landmark, he is also the go-to guy in our newsroom. No one can work the web like Bob as a source of detailed information. No one’s opinion is more valued when it comes to sorting out a complicated story. Whether it is our young reporters or this publisher looking for advice and counsel, it is Bob who is centering the conversation.
I’d say Bob has mellowed some over the years, though I had a young colleague tell me recently that Bob’s intensity causes their heart to race when he gets on a tear. Energy. Compassion. Smarts. Decency. Humor. That’s what community journalism is about and that’s Bob Uphues to the core.
Thanks to Bob Skolnik, our super freelancer, for collecting the quotes.