The [Friday] Papers
UPDATED BELOW WITH TRIB EDITOR GERRY KERN'S MEMO TO STAFF REGARDING THIS WEEK'S NEW YORK TIMES STORY.
Closer to Hooter's, presumably.
The pages on his calendar kind of get blown around, though.
Oh, for the love of Mike . . .
4. Geez, this looks nicer than Wrigleyville.
5. Oct. 7 Barack Obama fundraising e-mail:
"Making change is hard. It's what we've said from the beginning. And we've got the lumps to show for it."
Oct. 7 New York Times story:
6. "State Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago) said Thursday he will not give up his ministry of a massive South Side church if he's elected mayor - a 'non-negotiable' position that could cost him the chance to become the consensus black candidate to succeed Mayor Daley," the Sun-Times reports. "I feel that I can run my church and run the city of Chicago."
But would he have to recuse himself from the annual mayor's prayer breakfast?
Can't we track every TIF dollar by GPS instead?
8. "A federal judge signed off Wednesday on a $16.5 million settlement between the city of Chicago and tens of thousands of people who say they were mistreated by police while being held as suspects in crimes," the Tribune reports.
By generally accepted accounting practices, will this deducted from the corruption fund or the stupid fund?
I will avoid a Tribune Company joke here because it's really not funny.
10. "[F]or me," writes Andrew McIlvaine for Human Resource Executive, "what really takes the cake is this little gem, from a rewritten version of the company's employee handbook that was apparently one of the new team's first priorities, according to the story:
"'Working at Tribune means accepting that you might hear a word that you, personally, might not use,' the new handbook warned. 'You might experience an attitude you don't share. You might hear a joke that you don't consider funny. That is because a loose, fun, nonlinear atmosphere is important to the creative process.' It then added, 'This should be understood, should not be a surprise and not considered harassment.'
"Wow - management actually went ahead and redefined harassment. Brilliant! So the obvious question is: Where was HR when this new handbook was approved and distributed to employees? How could any HR leader possibly sign off on this? For a quick answer, I checked the archives of our People section and discovered that Luis E. Lewin served as Tribune's senior VP of corporate human resources from 2000 to 2008. In other words, Lewin (who's currently the CHRO at Purdue University) left Tribune right as Zell and his team were in the midst of making their changes at the company. I don't know Mr. Lewin or the actual circumstances of his departure, but I'd really like to think that it was because he would not be part of a management team that apparently had so little respect for the employees who worked there. I'd also like to think that most HR leaders would, upon failing to convince a CEO that their policies were similarly misguided, do the right thing and tender their resignation. Times may be tough, but principles are priceless."
And remember, it's not just the workplace, it's what the workplace is rewarded to produce.
Another lesson: Sometimes it's not news until it appears in the New York Times. For example, David Carr and the New York media were uninterested in my tale of corporate executives from two of the nation's largest media companies - Tribune and NBC - colluding to protect one of them from a wholly factual and sanctioned blog post.
(Beyond that, at least some of the tales appearing in Carr's story weren't new to at least some of us in Chicago - or news junkies who follow sites like Romenesko.)
But you wanna know what? The mainstream media in Chicago has been uninterested in this story too. Not true of the blogosphere. Maybe they have fewer friends to protect.
Finally, how can anyone trust anything coming out of Channel 5 knowing that news about a friend - late mayoral pal Michael Scott - of a station executive was also withheld? Does anybody care? Seems to me that's worse than giving a commentary gig to Jerry Springer.
And shouldn't some folks in both shops be losing their jobs about now?
11. "Secretariat captured the imagination of the nation, racking up record television ratings and grabbing the covers of major magazines of the time," our man on the rail Thomas Chambers writes. "He wasn't plucky, like Seabiscuit. He was Chick Anderson's 'tremendous machine,' the power and speed of the Saturn V rocket, Craig Breedlove on the salt flats. But he was nice about it. They say he knew what he was and what he could do, and that he loved to do it. And they say he enjoyed the fans enjoying him."
12. The College Football Report: Wearing Milk-Bone Underwear In A Dog Eat Dog World.
13. Apropos of nothing, but I wanted to end the week on a rocking note. This has more than 8.6 million views for all the right reasons.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Bark us up.
message: From: Kern, Gerould W.
Today's Chicago Tribune is yet another reminder of why I am so proud to be part of this newsroom, to be working with you.
Sam Roe's and Jared Hopkins' heart-breaking story about death of 9-year-old Jeremiah Clark exposes how our system failed to care for the most vulnerable among us. This is not an isolated story. Nearly every day we present reports to our readers that fulfill our promise to stand up for the community.
It's not just investigative stories like today's that make this statement. Every department, every section, every column, photo and editorial make the case that we are dedicated to public service in a diversity of forms. Others in the industry are recognizing innovation at the Chicago Tribune, as this link demonstrates. http://ronreason.com/designwithreason/2010/10/06/innovation-in-u-s-papers-where-is-it-how-to-define-it/
Given the events of this week, it is important to pause and remember that the words on our pages and websites speak loudest about who we are and what we value.
I've talked to a number of you over the week about the New York Times article that negatively characterized the culture and values of our company. Consequently, I believe it is important to reinforce the values of our newsroom and the Chicago Tribune Media Group.
Some of you have received inquiries from friends and family around the country, asking if you are safe and treated well. I am very sorry that this has been called into question. It is painful to hear that you've had to answer those questions. The Chicago Tribune and our newsroom always have operated with the highest professional, ethical and moral standards. Everyone who truly knows us understands this to be true.
We have established a set of principles and an environment that supports courageous journalism, and this is driving real reform in our city and state. Together we have worked diligently to establish a newsroom that is built on mutual respect, individual responsibility, openness and collegiality. We've done this during a time of trial for our company, our industry and our nation.
As many of you know, I read history. My advisors sit on a bookshelf behind my desk. I invite you to come by my office sometime and chat about some of these books and the stories they tell. For me, the greatest revelations are the choices that people make in their personal moments of truth. That is the place where history is made. These choices reveal everything about a person's character, values, about their courage to face adversity and stay true to their beliefs. History celebrates those who are principled, those who are selfless, people who defend their families, friends and homelands, people who put themselves and their careers at risk for larger ideas than themselves.
In the 163-year history of the Chicago Tribune, no group has confronted more disruption and more uncertainty than you. No group has demonstrated more innovative spirit and driven more transformative change than this one. No one has worked harder to keep journalism alive despite the economic assaults upon it. It is easy to profess your convictions when things are going well. It is quite another to hold onto those convictions and to push ahead when times are difficult.
Faced with the most crucial moment of our careers and the most perilous moment in the Chicago Tribune s history, we did not retreat. Instead, we stood and fought to create a brighter future for the Chicago Tribune. That is real courage.
History will be the judge of us all, as it is for all men and women. No matter where we go or what we do the rest of our lives, we can look back at this time with pride and the satisfaction that we carried the mission forward despite the challenges and that we stood by each other.
I am honored to be your colleague. I believe that our best days are still ahead.
Gerould Kern|SVP/Editor|Chicago Tribune|435 N. Michigan Ave., TT 400, Chicago, Ill. 60611-4041|(w ) 312-222-4420| firstname.lastname@example.org|chicagotribune.com
Commentary to follow on Monday.
Copy of commentary I posted at Romenesko:
Gerry Kern's memo makes a significant contribution to the history of subversive journalism, which reveals the lies inherent in official truth by shining light around, rather than directly on, the problems. In contrast to the blunt style of the Chicago Tribune, the power of subversive journalism comes from readers discerning the subtleties and the unstated.
Without a [critical word] of David Carr's perceptive piece, Kern adroitly reveals the newsroom anguish under the Zell regime of clown princes with ethics as flexible as their boss's.
Like the New Testament, Kern's memo adds to the literature of vanquished peoples who refuse to relinquish their humanity to their oppressors and instead seek a shared inner life that perpetuates their values.
Kern's memo also gets at the enormous power the Supreme Court granted, without hearing, in 1886 to what had been tightly controlled and short-lived entities when it declared that corporations are persons with 14th Amendment rights. His memo goes to Justice Rehnquist's forgotten 1977 warnings in Bellotti about corporate power. And Kern's memo is very relevant to this year's Citizens United decision, which was to expanding corporate power what the Big Bang was to the singularity.
When scholars look back at journalism in our age, and the relative shift of power from the democratic state to the corporation, Kern's brilliant memo may win him a place in the history books he so loves.
Posted on October 8, 2010
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