Carrying on a family legacy

By John Doe

An Oakland University professor is keeping alive a more than century-old tradition with the help of her sister and around 30 employees.

La Tribuna del Popolo, more commonly known as The Italian Tribune, is a bi-weekly newspaper published to serve the Italian-American community of Metro Detroit.

The newspaper’s history

The Tribune was founded in 1909 by Vincent Giulliano and his wife Maria as a voice of the labor movement and a way to teach Italian immigrants English.

The paper has since stayed in the family, with Giulliano’s great-grand daughter, OU alumna and professor of writing rhetoric Marilyn Borner, owning and co-publishing the newspaper with her sister, Pam White.

“Everything in the Tribune is Italian-related. You won’t find any other articles in here except for articles that are related to Italian-Americans,”  Borner said. “We’re here to serve the Italian community of Metro Detroit. We know who our audience is: we want to be upbeat, we want to be supportive and we want to further the Italian language and culture.”

Borner’s background

Borner graduated from OU in 1979 with a degree in communication. She began pursuing her master’s in linguistics, but the birth of her first child put that on hold.

In 1991, Borner moved to California where she eventually obtained her master’s degree in English with a concentration in creative writing from California State University, Fullerton.

She held a position with the Orange County Register newspaper until 2002, when she moved back to Michigan.

Borner has been teaching writing and rhetoric courses at OU for four years. She has also taught at Macomb and St. Clair Community College.

Keeping tradition alive

“My sister and I have all of the responsibility and all of the blame if something goes wrong,” White said. “My sister is a perfectionist and demands a certain level of competence both from the staff and in production of the paper.”

The Italian Tribune has been in existence for 102 years and has been owned by five generations of Borner’s family.

Borner describes the Tribune as a “good news” paper, meaning they cover news that is entertaining and upbeat.

“Our purpose nowadays is to come together to form a cohesive Italian-American community, but we’re not focused on providing language instruction or immigration instruction,” Borner said.

Most of the paper is in English, but has a section every issue written entirely in Italian. Most of this section is dedicated to news in Italy and pieces written by older Italian readers.

Staff for the paper is around 30 to 35 employees. Borner writes nearly every piece of copy in the paper, and around seven articles an issue. The paper has been bi-weekly since 1970.

Readership

While the paper primarily covers metro Detroit, circulation is not limited to the area.

“We do circulate to other Italian-American communities in the Midwest, New York, New Jersey and Windsor (Canada),” Borner said.

The Italian Tribune is free and available at many local Italian businesses, such as Nino Salvaggio’s. Mailing distribution is available as well.

The paper is usually 20 to 40 pages long, containing sections such as entertainment, sports and health and fitness.

The largest issues of the Tribune are typically the holiday editions: primarily Christmas, Easter and Columbus Day.

Hope for the future

With newspapers across the country going out of business, the Tribune is still growing.

Borner has plans for her children to take the paper over when she decides to retire, keeping it in her family for a sixth generation.

She works sporadically, serving more in a mentor role while letting her daughter run the paper.

“Although she does play an integral part in the Italian Tribune, I know her first love is really teaching,” White said.

More information about the tradition-rich newspaper can be found at www.italian-tribune.com