The Chicago area is blessed with nearly 100 Italian American groups and institutions that meet regularly and host more than 300 special events each year.
Fra Noi is committed to shining a spotlight on these activities in our magazine, but that commitment comes with a challenge: how to cover a community that vast within the fiscal and physical confines of the publication.
Through trial and error over the past quarter century, we’ve devised a system for accomplishing that, and I’d like to shed light on it now.
Since Fra Noi doesn’t have the funds to send photographers and reporters out to cover local events, we count on the clubs to be our eyes and ears, sending in the raw material that we transform into coverage.
While we devote more than a third of our pages to the Chicago-area community, it would be logistically and financially impossible to give full-length treatment to every single one of those events and meetings. So how to prioritize?
As a rule, we don’t announce meetings and events that are open only to members because it would swamp the magazine and invite unwanted guests to the party.
Beyond that, we try to be as fair and inclusive as possible. To do so, we’ve created three tiers of coverage in the magazine — the calendar, the Highlights section and what we call “newsletters.”
The calendar is the catch all, containing basic information about every meeting and event that’s open to the public. Because space is so tight, we rarely list events that fall outside the publication month.
Golf outings, bocce tournaments, fashion shows, dinner dances and the like rarely receive coverage beyond the calendar because details are relatively few and they don’t change much from year to year.
We also run specialty listings dedicated to scholarships (February), St. Joseph Tables (March) and patron saint festivals (May).
Events that appear in our Highlights section tend to have some sort of “news hook.” In this month’s section, you’ll learn about developments at the law firm of Amari & Locallo, Onesti Entertainment and the Sicilian American Cultural Association. You’ll also find items about local dentist Dr. Louis Imburgia, installation ceremonies hosted by the Calabresi in America and the Columbian Club, a new book about Italian-American baseball legends, a Christmas party for Navy recruits in Berwyn, a Lenten fish fry and Good Friday celebration at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and a Bracciole Fest at Casa Italia.
All magazine coverage also appears on the website, often with expanded articles and additional photos. Those items are flagged with small tri-colored balls next to the headline.
I reach out to the organizations via email each month for calendar items and post-event coverage, and I’m proud to say that every single submission shows up in one form or another in the magazine and on the website.
Because space is so tight and the demand so great, full-page local coverage in the magazine is either paid for by the sponsoring organizations or earned after attaining specific benchmarks of support.
I call these pages “newsletters,” and they serve the crucial dual purpose of showcasing events that are near and dear to the sponsoring organizations while generating revenue that keeps Fra Noi going strong. Società SS. Crocifisso & San Giovanni Bosco di Ciminna (Chicago) has dedicated a newsletter on page 71 to its Man of the Year dinner dance.
Organizations also have the option of underwriting post-event “photo albums” like the ones on pages 67 to 69 showcasing the Italian American Executives of Transportation dinner dance, a holiday bash thrown by Greco & Sons, and the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame’s 40th anniversary gala.
With the above system, a lone editor can work hand-in-hand with an entire community to produce the cornucopia of local coverage contained in Fra Noi.
Grazie a tutti!
The above appeared in the March issue of the print version of Fra Noi. Our gorgeous, monthly magazine contains a veritable feast of news and views, profiles and features, entertainment and culture. To subscribe, click here.