Niche publication

The new editor of the Fort Wayne-based Macedonian Tribune may seem an unlikely choice for the position.

Larry Koroloff was born in Canada, lives in Toronto and is a retired history teacher who does not have journalism training.

But his father, who grew up in Drenoveni, a village in Macedonia, and moved to Canada in 1929, always looked forward to reading the Tribune, Koroloff says. Koroloff accepted the position in memory of him.

Koroloff, 60, was asked to edit the oldest Macedonian newspaper in the world by the central committee of the Macedonian Patriotic Organization, which owns the Tribune. He took over in September when former editor Virginia Nizamoff Surso stepped down. Koroloff is secretary of the committee and will be editing the paper pro bono.

He will edit the Tribune over the Internet, though he does come to Fort Wayne about four times a year.

?Before I became computer literate, it would have been impossible (to edit a Fort Wayne-based paper in Canada), but now with modern technology, it works quite fine,? Koroloff says, adding that he?s in constant contact with the paper?s executive director and designer.

Though Koroloff hasn?t written a lot in the past – just a few short stories – he says he is able to bring something new to the position because he is multilingual. Koroloff is fluent in English, French, Bulgarian and Russian.

?I?m able to read the sources from the old country in the original,? he says. ?I?m not dependent on somebody doing a summary or waiting for it to be translated into English. That?s really helpful. I?m able to transliterate the words more carefully and more accurately.?

Many of those original pieces are written in Bulgarian, he says. It wasn?t until after World War II that English was introduced to the paper, and until the 1990s, portions of the Tribune were still written in Bulgarian, not Macedonian. The Macedonian language was created in 1944 for political reasons, Koroloff says, and the country speaks various Bulgarian dialects throughout the region. Some people identify with the Macedonian language; others don?t, including the organization that owns the Tribune, Koroloff says.

Similarly, English is not Koroloff?s first language, though he speaks with no trace of an accent. He learned the language from television, watching shows such as ?I Love Lucy,? ?The Ed Sullivan Show? and ?Bonanza.?

?What I would really like to do is just inform the first, second and third American- and Canadian-born generations of the history of immigration to those countries, the reasons for it, when it happened, how they organized,? he says.

The newspaper is published monthly, except in September, and in a recent edition, the paper featured a travel column by a woman who had recently visited Macedonia, recipes and event wrap-ups, such as the Macedonian Patriotic Organization?s event, Victory, which took place in Toronto.

Wrap-ups of such events as Victory work toward Koroloff?s goal to keep the Macedonian community in touch with one another. Though the newspaper primarily serves the United States and Canada, there are subscribers worldwide, including Australia, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Germany. The Tribune has 700 to 800 subscribers.

Previous to Koroloff?s appointment, the Tribune was headed by longtime employee Surso, who worked at the paper since 1987 and was its editor for four years. At 71, Surso says she stepped down because of her age.

Before moving to Fort Wayne, Surso lived in Indianapolis, working at the Indianapolis Star for 10 years. She moved to Fort Wayne – she currently lives in Syracuse – at the request of the late Fort Wayne Mayor Ivan Lebamoff, whose parents emigrated from Macedonia and at one time was president of the Macedonian Patriotic Organization. He wanted her to manage the Tribune?s organization.

?That meant that I (jumped) in and did articles when needed,? Surso says. ?That developed into a more intensive role with the paper.?

Over the years, Surso has seen a number of changes take place at the Macedonian Tribune. In addition to its being written completely in English, she also saw the paper grow – and then shrink. In the early 1990s, when the country was trying to get a United Nations membership, there was a great deal of news coming out of the region, and the Tribune grew with the news.

?Macedonia is pretty much on its own two feet right now,? she says. ?There?s not as much news about it.?

She?s also seen the paper add color – it used to be completely black and white – and begin to use computers. When Surso started, the paper was designed and created entirely by hand.

Her goals, too, were to inform Macedonians of their news and their history. At one time, Fort Wayne was home to thousands of people of Macedonian descent.

?My idea was to present material in a positive manner so Macedonians are proud of our long history and rich heritage,? she says.

Today, Surso finds herself immersed in volunteer work, including Rock Solid, a community center in Syracuse, and the St. Vincent DePaul Society.

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