It's been a year now

After months of careful planning, The Sentinel published its first story one year ago today.

Initially I wanted to publish a weekly paper on newsprint delivered to every home just as The Leader had done in the first 30 some years of its existence. After weeks of research, pouring over financial models and talking to business owners I hoped would advertise, it be came clear that the print model would not be viable. Developing an online version, I moved forward.

It all started with this story: New name, holiday basketball tradition continues at St. Joseph-Ogden High School last December. Since then, The Sentinel has published 213 more pieces, 214 if you count this one.

Honestly, I started The Sentinel because I didn't have much choice. There are not a lot a career options for guys with my first name. You are either a mild-mannered reporter (or photographer in my case) or an actor with a name like Clark. No way could I compete with Idris Elba, Denzel, Brad or Daniel Craig for a leading roll on the silver screen. I'll gladly stay out of their lane.

I started The Sentinel and happily will blame long time resident Scott Hunter for it.

He was the founder and publisher of The Leader until it was purchased by The News-Gazette, who later ran it aground and shuddered it a year ago this past August. Mr. Hunter was, and still is though retired, in my humble opinion a Jedi master of the newspaper publishing industry.

While he may be the antithesis of Yoda in stature, his more than abundant experience from more than 40 years in the business, knowledge and analytical acumen of every facet of the newspaper business has been both invaluable and illuminating in helping me converge today's technology to build, your hometown online news source. Thanks to his enthusiastic encouragement and sharp, light sabre like wit, I threw caution to the stars last year and don't regret it for millennium.

Now 12 months into the uncharted regions of digital publishing, seemingly the final frontier of news media, I look forward to my new found mission: To share stories, record history and boldly build The Sentinel, taking it where no online newspaper has gone before (yes, crossfade Star Trek theme here). Whoooosh!

What were The Sentinel's top stories in the first year of our journey? Here's the short list, the top five, most-read articles on

1. Seventeen named Illinois state scholars at SJO
2. 12 area students earn UofI degrees
3. Volleyball goes out with a victory, SJO finishes #3 in the state
4. SJO sets State Farm Classic record
5. 173 students earn High Honor Roll honors at SJO

Any time you have news to share about an upcoming event, a recent accomplishment, job promotion or running for public office, please don't hesitate to contact me at or send a direct message on the Sentinel Facebook. If you have a story to tell I'll happily listen.

Thank you for visiting regularly. I look forward to another year of watching over the people The Sentinel cares about.

Clark Brooks

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