|About The West End Word|
“Why the West End Word?”
Those five words headlined the first column in the first ever West End Word newspaper, published in August 1972. Penned by Word co-founder Robert Duffy, the text set out to explain why an intrepid group of Central West End neighbors decided to publish a hyperlocal community newspaper.
“We will challenge old ideas here, and, hopefully, provoke the growth of new ones,” wrote Duffy. “But underscoring all our efforts is a sincere commitment to the improvement, preservation, and growth of the entire west end of St. Louis.”
Duffy, Ella (Ellie) Chapman, Linda Eyerman (now Sun Smith-Foret) and Jack Lowell founded the West End Word. Mary Bartley, Suzanne Goell, Margaret Grant and Renni Shuter joined the ranks soon thereafter.
“We were boosters, to be frank about it,” said Duffy. “We were telling the story of the neighborhood. We encouraged people to look at it with an appreciation of urbanism.”
Ownership of the paper changed a handful of times over the years. Suzanne Goell purchased the newspaper from the original founders early on, and Ellen Cusumano bought it from Goell in the late 1980s. In 1989, the Fister family purchased the Word and expanded the readership to include neighboring communities.
In 2011, the West End Word became part of the Webster-Kirkwood Times Inc. family of community newspapers, which includes the Webster-Kirkwood Times and South County Times weekly publications. The company, run by publisher Dwight Bitikofer and editor-in-chief Don Corrigan, has its roots in community journalism, and began publication in 1978.
Bitikofer had just moved to St. Louis when the West End Word debuted in 1972.
“I could never have imagined that one day I would come to own the newspaper,” he said. “St. Louis is a great place to live. I am happy that the West End Word is still here more than 40 years later to serve and represent a vibrant corridor of our town – ‘from the Arch to the Innerbelt.’”
“How humbling – and how fun – to be a part of the tradition of the West End Word,” said editor Don Corrigan. “My hope is that on our 50th anniversary, folks will be saying: ‘That’s a good little paper. I read it from cover to cover. The Word gives us local news and perspective we just can’t get anywhere else.’”