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The [Friday] Papers

I'm out the door early this morning so just a few quick items.

1. It's even worse than we thought - and it's a pattern.

"WMAQ-Ch. 5 reporter Amy Jacobson was briefing police on her interaction with Craig Stebic without telling her bosses, which played a role in her ouster from the station, sources say," the Tribune reports.

"Jacobson was taped last week in a swimsuit with her kids at the home of Stebic, the Plainfield man now classified by police as a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife.

"Sources say that breach of company standards, which made her a part of a story she was covering and had been warned she was getting too close to, was just the latest incident over the past several years to cause bosses to lose their confidence in Jacobson's judgment and cost the star reporter her job.*

2. No lessons learned.

When one of her questioners asked her, what if she hadn't gone to the house that day," the Trib's Steve Johnson writes, "Jacobson's first response - and this negates everything she said about believing she made a 'terrible mistake' - was this: 'What if I got the interview?'"

3. I disagree with Johnson that Channel 2's posting of its full, unedited video of Jacobson at the Stebic home "prove[s] Jacobson's contention that WBBM, in its original report, edited the video unfairly, to make it appear more salacious than it looks as a whole."

The salacity is in the mind of the viewer. Jacobson was there in a bikini. Can't avoid that. Stebic was there in a swimsuit. Can't avoid that. You have to place Stebic at the scene, so you have to show him as well as Jacobson. The impression that was created was exactly one of the reasons why Jacobson shouldn't have been there under the circumstances. And if Jacobson had come clean or her bosses at Channel 5 would have gotten out front of the story, maybe they could have corrected that impression. Transparency is your friend, folks.

4. Jacobson knew she had done something wrong.

"Sources say by mid-afternoon Friday, Jacobson feared she had been recorded at Stebic's home and was calling friends and rival TV stations to see if they were aware of tape showing her at the residence from which divorcing wife Lisa was moving to evict him on April 30, the day she vanished," the Trib account says.

"Immediately after leaving Stebic's home, Jacobson - without her children - rushed to NBC Tower to meet with WMAQ President and General Manager Larry Wert, a source said. Jacobson described to Wert what had happened with Stebic and it was decided by Saturday to take her off the air while station executives reviewed the situation."

5. Channel 2 reveals how it got the video.

"This week, CBS 2 has gotten more phone calls and e-mails than usual, and that's an understatement. Viewers reacted strongly - both in support and protest - of the Amy Jacobson videotape. We want you to know the inside story," the station says.

6. Stebic named "person of interest."

"Citing the 'minimal assistance' of Craig Stebic in finding his missing wife, Lisa, police on Thursday labeled him 'a person of interest' in what they now say is a case of foul play," the Tribune reports.

"Plainfield Police Chief Donald Bennett made the announcement at a news conference attended by about a dozen reporters. After the bespectacled chief read from a text and answered three questions posed to him previously, he quickly left the room as one reporter tried to ask if 'person of interest' was the same as 'suspect.'

"Asked later in a telephone interview what it meant to define Stebic as a person of interest, the chief said: 'He's the focus of our investigation. We'd love to talk to him. Craig Stebic was the last person to see Lisa at her own residence.'"

As noted by the Trib, "person of interest" is not a legal term, though it is an (unartful) public declaration of who the police consider a suspect.

7. Jacobson really screwed up.

"Bennett said 'the incident involving Amy Jacobson had no impact on our investigation. Additionally, Amy Jacobson has in the past informed the Plainfield Police Department of her prior conversations with Mr. Stebic,'" the Trib account says.

"Jacobson has indicated that she obtained new information from visiting with Craig Stebic's family that she would share with a new employer. Plainfield Cmdr. Mike Altenhoff said police may interview Jacobson further."

Actually I don't think Jacobson will be sharing any information with a new employer unless her next job is with the Plainfield Police Department.

8. It is within Craig Stebic's right not to talk to police.

Melanie Greenberg, the family spokesman whose husband's cousin is Lisa Stebic, told Larry King last night that the family has been encouraging Craig to come forward and cooperate with the police - and to let the two Stebic children, as two of the last people to see Lisa, speak to police. "We wish he would let them talk."

As the children's legal guardian, Stebic can prevent police from questioning the kids.

Former prosecutor and current defense attorney Michael Cardoza said it's clear Craig Stebic has been a suspect from the beginning, and cautioned that he's not cooperating with police on the advice of his lawyer. Stebic's lawyer, Cardoza said, did offer to accept questions submitted by police and get back to them with the answers. I think we can all see why that would be unacceptable to investigators.

Why wouldn't Stebic cooperate with police? Certainly anyone could legitimately fear being railroaded by the cops. On the other hand, if you are white and live in Plainfield the chances of this are probably pretty slim. You might think someone in Craig Stebic's situation would want to help police to the nth degree to find Lisa or solve the case. But Craig Stebic is still innocent until proven guilty.

9. Greenberg on Jacobson.

"Amy has been nothing than a dedicated professional journalist with our family . . . I'm not sure I agree with her decision to take the children there."

10. The police have possible evidence taken in a previous search that remains under court seal.

11. Sorry, Eric. From a reader:

"When your heart is in the right place and you make an honest mistake that hurts no one, you deserve to have the benefit of the doubt along with your regrets."

- Eric Zorn

Eric: While we're doing an anatomical scan, shall we check and see if Amy's brain is in the right place?


Found myself at Filter last night on its last night. It is turning into a bank. This has been commented on before in various places, but let me say here that it is beyond me how putting banks on vibrant intersections is a healthy way to nurture neighborhoods. Seems like a recipe for killing them.

And the loss of Filter - which truth be told is really a second- or third-wave gentrified version of the Wicker Park coffee house - is a community-building killer. It was a gathering place. Banks aren't; and neither is the new Levi's on Milwaukee Avenue or the plethora of crappy frat boy bars and pretentious, overpriced restaurants plaguing the land.

You can't even get a gloriously cheap and humongous divy burrito around here anymore. This is progress?

Really, is this best for the neighborhood? No, it's only best for a ginormous and heartless institution and a couple local guys - the Filter owner and the Flatiron building owner - who put a chunk of change in their pocket.


Chicago is losing population, by the way. Maybe even because of gentrification.


In Today's Beachwood
- T-Ball Journal: The tag play some poor chump will always remember. Now with photos of Coach Jim!

- Cab #5321. Will Paula Abdul ever learn?

- Catch up on the week's new in The Papers archive. See what great jokes you missed.

- You know what's a cool thing to do? Go to each of our section fronts and click on the archives links on the top of the left rail and catch up on all the other great stuff you've missed.

- And watch for The Weekend Desk Report, posted Saturday mornings and fresh throughout the entire weekend.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Make a deposit today.


Posted on July 13, 2007

MUSIC - A Plan To Pay Musicians.
TV - Jonathan Pie: Back To School.
POLITICS - Chicago Lawyers vs. CPD.
SPORTS - I've Had It.

BOOKS - How The Post Office United America.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Against Germophobia.

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