A Pioneer in Community Journalism

by Sauro on April 18, 2016 - 11:13pm

Leo A. Lerner (1907-1965) was a newspaper editor and publisher who saw the relevancy of informing the public about what they really want and need to know: local news. He is the founder of Lerner Newspaper, once the greatest community journal in the world. 

Lerner graduated from the Northwestern University of Chicago in 1928. He began his journalist career when he was still a student. From 1924 to 1928, Lerner worked as an editor for several journals such as the Morton Grove News, the Lincoln Belmont Booster and the North Side Sunday Citizen. Quite early in his career, Lerner founded his own community journal in Chicago, the Lerner Newspaper, in 1926. Also, he was President of different divisions of the  Chicago Northwestern Newspapers (Prabook).

Leo  A. Lerner was deeply involved in community services throughout his life and career. To start with, he directed the Citizens School Committee through which he fought corruption while raising the standards of education in Chicago. Furthermore, Lerner was associated with several hospital groups who worked to improve the health care services. On an international level, Lerner helped and financed Europeans refugees so they can be transported to the United States during World War II (Syracuse University).

Nevertheless, his main contribution to the world, especially to the city of Chicago, is his emphasis on community journalism and civic duty. Lerner once claimed: “A fistfight on Clark Street is more important to our readers than a war in Europe.” (Syracuse University). For his accomplishment and contribution to the world of journalism, Lerner received several awards such as the Decalogue Society of Lawyers' Annual Award of Merit,  the Chicago Medal of Merit, the first Editorial Award, and he was recipient for the National Herrick Award, and the Publisher of the Year Award (Prabook).

A man such as Leo A. Lerner was a pioneer of community journalism. The efforts he put throughout his career intelligibly correlated with the important points I have been making about the importance of local news journalism in my recent posts. Lerner’s strategy to make community journals prevail is quite simple, and could be used to the fight against the gradual disappearance of local journals. To explain, his legacy tells communities to be more engaged in public services. In other words, the people needs to become aware of the importance of local journals. Similarly to education, health services or any other public services, community journals require the participation of its community in order to remain. Also, as soon as the 1920s, Lerner believed in the fact that journalism has an important impact on the social and civic life of a community which is why he spent all of his life cherishing this project. He would defend that the community would greatly benefits from this engagement as it serves its people. On that regard,  my article Local Newspaper is an important Asset that the Communities Do Not Want to Lose explains some of the important points that the communities profit from local journals. In sum, Leo A. Lerner, a pioneer in the world of journalism, left an heritage of values which promotes community journalism.




"Leo Alfred Lerner." Prabook. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.



"Leo A. Lerner Papers." Syracuse University Library. Syracuse University, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.