The Peanut Butter Press may be gone, but its stories live on

The publication was written for kids, by kids
Posted at 5:00 AM, Mar 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-24 08:46:08-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Barbara Poore moved to Indianapolis with her husband in 1979. It was his job that brought the couple to the Circle City, but when Poore tried to find employment as a schoolteacher, it wasn’t an easy task.

“That was not a good time to get a teaching job,” Poore told WRTV. “They were reducing teaching forces.”

Poore soon took matters into her own hands.

“I knew that what I like to do most in my elementary school classrooms was write with kids,” Poore said. “I thought I could do a newspaper for kids, and then 2 minutes later I said, 'No, it has to be with kids.' ”

The Peanut Butter Press was born.

“The idea of peanut butter came up and it seemed alliterative, and it worked,” Poore said.

Pre-technology days

Barbara Poore ran the Peanut Butter Press out of her basement for about a year.

As circulation grew, so did the need for additional resources. Poore hired Patty Deely to assist with the publication.

“We did everything,” Deely said. “We set the stories up, arranged to get the kid reporters, got the rental van to transport them, and got all the permission slips signed, and took the kids out for the stories.”

When it was time to assemble the paper, the pair used the paste-up room at The Daily Journal in Franklin.

“This was pre-technology days,” Poore said.

Poore and Deely would paste, proofread and ready the newspaper for print. After rolling off the press, the newspapers were delivered back to Poore’s home.

“We'd sit in the kitchen and organize them into bundles,” Deely said.

A delivery driver would then distribute the papers to area schools.

The Peanut Butter Press was a success thanks to a combination of grants, advertising and subscription dollars.

‘Chip’ off the old block

“Only two people in the world are allowed to call me Chip, and that’s my mom and my sister,” Peter F. Bannon II told WRTV in a recent interview.

However, this wasn’t Bannon’s first time talking with WRTV.

Longtime sports director Tom Carnegie interviewed Peter "Chip" Bannon when he was the Peanut Butter Press reporter assigned to cover a Joe Montana press conference in March 1982.

“He [Carnegie] was certainly near reverence at the Slaymaker-Bannon house, and my dad was was a heck of a journalist in his own right,” Bannon said. “My parents were the very definition of news junkies.”

Bannon’s stepfather was Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame journalist Gene Slaymaker. His mother, Julie Slaymaker, is an award-winning freelance writer. He credits them with helping him land the Montana interview.

“I had to sit down and write out a couple questions that I wanted to ask Joe Montana,” Bannon said.

But there was truly just one question Bannon wanted to ask, and he did on March 4, 1982.

“What do you plan to do when you retire?”

1982: Kid reporter questions Joe Montana for Peanut Butter Press

Even though Montana was coming off his third season in the NFL, the Peanut reporter had a very personal reason for asking such a pointed question.

“I was an avid football fan and the Dallas Cowboys was my team,” said Bannon. “Months before this interview was 'The Catch.' ”

That catch happened during the 1981 NFC Championship. Joe Montana connected with Dwight Clark in the end zone, completing a 6-yard touchdown. The Catch sent the Cowboys packing.

“This little selfish 8-year-old who had his heart broken 6 months prior by Joe Montana wanted to know when he was going to get out of the game and not beat my Dallas Cowboys anymore,” recalled Bannon.

The Park Tudor second grader’s article was published in June 1982.

Peter 'Chip' Bannon reads his 1982 Peanut Butter Press article

An editor’s note with the article read, “Chip was picked for this assignment because of his intense interest in professional football and his knowledge of the facts and figures that go with the game.”

The Peanut Butter Press pushes on

Peanut Butter Press reporters spent the next few years covering stories across Central Indiana.

They interviewed sports figures, politicians and celebrities. Their stories took them to a pig farm, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, WrestleMania, for a ride in the Goodyear Blimp and even the movie "Hoosiers," where they appeared as extras.

“One time we were out at the racetrack, and one of the drivers was talking to them about having lost an engine as they were in line to get qualified,” Poore said. “And a hand goes up, this little boy says, ‘Where did you lose it?'"

Poore says children make excellent reporters.

“I think they're authentic. They're sincere, honest and genuinely curious. They aren't tainted by all of the things that adults have that get in their way. If they have a question, they're going to ask it," Poore said.

One question Poore and Deely had to answer in 1986 was how the paper was going to be funded.

“I got really tired of trying to do the fundraising and decided that it was just time to stop,” Poore said.

But the impact of The Peanut Butter Press had already spread.

Weeks after the paper ceased publication at the end of the school year, management at The Indianapolis News asked to meet with Poore about The Peanut Butter Press.

Poore brought Deely to the meeting at The Athletic Club.

“They said, 'We would like to begin printing The Peanut Butter Press,'" Poore said. “I was just flabbergasted.”

Poore had already found another job, but Deely was available and accepted the role.

WRTV reporter Angela Cain covered the return of the Peanut Butter Press in this report from October 29, 1986.

1986: The Peanut Butter Press returns

The Peanut Butter Press ran for another 10 years until budget cuts once again brought the paper to a true end in 1996.

Memories for life

The stories first told by Peanut Butter Press reporters decades ago are being shared once again.

“It took me back,” said Bannon, who recalled fond memories of his father.“He passed away in 2011. I still miss him every day, so it brought back wonderful, sweet memories and started a conversation within my family.”

Some stories that were never published are now being told for the first time. Patty Deely recalled doing a report with White House press secretary James Brady.

"We were interviewing him in a hotel suite, and he was in the room like right in front of the window. We were many stories up, and it was sunset. The lighting in the room was really, really bad, and I was the photographer. I was taking the pictures and I said to Mr. Brady, 'Mr. Brady, could you move away from the window so I could get a better shot?' His Secret Service people went crazy."

Secret Service incidents aside, Deely says her time with the Peanut Butter Press was marvelous.

"It was a wonderful job. I really loved it," Deely said.

Barbara Poore says transforming the Peanut Butter Press from an idea into a respected publication was a dream that came true.

"A lot of people never get to do that in their entire lifetime, and for me, it was just a wonderful, fun experience that I would never take back a minute of," Poore said.

You have to help kids be good consumers

Without a publication like the Peanut Butter Press, the burden of media literacy now falls at the feet of educators.

"I think there's a huge burden on schools to do a really excellent job of teaching kids how to be good consumers of media," Barbara Poore said.

"I think there needs to be more education for kids to know how to really critically analyze the news they're getting and what sources they're getting their news from," said Patty Deely.

Peter Bannon says he's grateful his introduction to journalism came from two very trusted sources — his parents.

"I'm the son of two journalists," recalled Bannon. "They taught me very early on the power of asking open-ended questions."

For those who don't have journalist parents or who aren't regularly inside a classroom, WRTV is committed to providing resources for consuming media responsibly.