Goodman Community Center | Eastside News continues a tradition that…

Eastside News continues a tradition that began 100 years ago

Hyper-local journalism keeps neighbors and residents connected.

July 1, 2024 |
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Eastside News Editor Dave Link (left) and Goodman Community Center President and Executive Director Letesha Nelson stand outside Ironworks reading issues of Eastside News.
Eastside News Editor Dave Link (left) and Goodman Community Center President and Executive Director Letesha Nelson compare news stories from days past to the present time. GCC has been publishing Eastside News for almost 50 years.

By Dave Link, Eastside News

When you think about it, having hyper-local journalism exist for 100 years is an amazing thing. I mean Eastside News doesn’t pretend that it’s in the same league as the regional “big boys” — Wisconsin State Journal, Cap Times or even Isthmus — but for a neighborhood to have its own media outlet to keep neighbors and residents connected, that is simply amazing.

The legacy of Eastside News is long, as it should be for an entity with a 100-year history, but the common thread running through it is the commitment by a handful of people to keep the east side engaged. Even when the original East Side News went defunct, others brought it back, and it continues to thrive — with the help of volunteers and no full-time staff dedicated to its production.

ESN has always been fiercely east side. When Marshall Browne founded ESN, the Atwood, Emerson/East High and Eken Park neighborhoods were the eastern edge of Madison. As the city has grown, ESN still concentrates on those neighborhoods, as well as some parts of the near-east side, north side, East­moreland neighborhood and Monona. While Eastside News’ content is not as hard hitting as “the big boys,” it does provide a good sense of what is happening in our “little ’hood.”

Garver in Eastside News
March/April 1990 Eastside News

Garver Feed Mill first appeared in ESN in 1990 in a discussion about restoring it. Its transformation process occupied a vast amount of column inches over the years, and it still does as a hub of activity.

Development at Union Corners was slow in coming after Ray-O-Vac and Kohl’s closed. At one point it even looked like it might not happen, but Eastside News ran regular updates.

Efforts to clean up Lake Monona have appeared in ESN since almost Day One. There’s still challenges in making the waterway acceptably clean to this day.

Noise. Everybody hates noise. Even in a metropolitan city. From dogs barking to unruly parties to trains and the airport. ESN has printed gripes about noise.

Then there’s community centers: Atwood Community House, Atwood Community Center, Goodman-Atwood Community Center and finally Goodman Community Center. As the community center’s name and programming evolved, ESN has been a voice for them since the 1970s. It’s where the community can find out program offerings and what cool things are happening within them.

Then there’s the things in Eastside News that have faded away, mostly due to lack of interest. Pet obituaries, haikus, columns from politicians and school principals, happenings at the libraries, Sustainable Atwood. Even the serial longtime readers might remember, “Crazy Cats Tear Their Skin,” finally came to an end. Page counts dropped for cost-saving reasons.

Some were good ideas — and some maybe not so much — but ESN wasn’t afraid to try what the community asked for.

Even as technology has provided new ways for connection, ESN is still a viable, old-school conduit for information. We regularly hear from the community about how “I love the little paper.” To me, that means we’re still doing something right creating a printed newspaper. That’s something to celebrate too.

Come January, Eastside News will embark on its second 100 years. One only wonders what ESN will look like in 25 or 50 years, let alone 100. I know I won’t know, but I’m sure east side spirit won’t let it die without a fight. That’s why ESN made it to 100.

Help us celebrate this huge milestone

Your gift helps us continue our legacy of hyper-local journalism. Gifts to Eastside News in 2024 of $100+ receive a 100th Anniversary sticker, pictured on the banner of this page.

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