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The [Monday] Papers

"As Americans celebrate the release to safety of Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, two Fox News journalists who had been held captive for nearly two weeks by kidnappers in Gaza, the joy is tempered by the news that another American journalist, Paul Salopek, is being held in Sudan as a prisoner in the same war," The New York Sun says in an editorial this morning.

Salopek is the Chicago Tribune's two-time Pulitzer Prize winning foreign correspondent. He was in Sudan on a freelance assignment for National Geographic. To get up to speed:

* "Journalist Faces Charges Over Entering Darfur Region." (New York Times)

* "Media Groups Urge Sudan To Release U.S. Reporter." (Associated Press)

* "The 'Passionate Witness.'" (Chicago Tribune)

* "Tribune Correspondent Held As Spy In Sudan." (Chicago Tribune)

The [Race] Papers
The Tribune doctors a Dusty Baker quote to avoid a racial reference; Obama chides Steinberg; Kass visits the new, racially-divided Survivor island; and why racial profiling would be of little help fighting terrorism. Coming later today in Politics.

The Sun-Times's "Suburban Officials Sold On Wal-Mart" offers one side of the story - the side of Suburban Officials! And what a pretty side it is! What's missing in this love letter to Wal-Mart, and perhaps to its increasing newspaper advertising budget, is a look at just what the pay scale is at Wal-Mart's suburban stores, how that compares with what they plan to pay in city stores, and how that compares with the big-box ordinance, not to mention the makeup of the suburban workforce (teenagers in part-time after-school jobs, or parents in full-time jobs?) and other ways in which this talking point may be irrelevant. After all, it was the mayor who recently pointed out all the reasons why Chicago should not be compared to San Francisco and Santa Fe, right?

(Mayors of those cities objected to Daley's rant on Sunday.)

And is it really a surprise, as the Sun-Times reports, that the Wal-Mart store in Niles hasn't (according to officials) resulted in an increase in publicly subsidized health care costs due to low-wage employees working little or no benefits? The question isn't health care costs in Niles, it's how health care costs will be impacted in Chicago if and when new Wal-Mart stores open there. Perhaps the paper could tell us about places where health care costs have increased - or do the work to debunk the whole notion. But don't just tell us what is or isn't happening in Niles (and without, presumably, the paper checking it out on its own).

Finally, there is no voice of labor in the article, which, considering the story is about wages, makes it unfit to publish, particularly in a major metropolitan newspaper. Even muzzled workers at the Niles Wal-Mart would have at least been a start.

Carson's Care
Carson Pirie Scott is leaving its famed State Street location, but the landmark Louis Sullivan building is staying. What should go in it? How about a museum for Lost Chicago Brands? A Berghoff bar in one corner, a mini-Marshall Field's in another . . . Or just plain Lost Chicago, a catalogue of all things lost here over time: the neighborhood tavern, the mind of every Cubs manager, the middle class, chain link fences, medians without flowers/streets without medians, the Blackhawks, the position of Tribune editorial cartoonist, and reporters who check it out when their mother says she loves them.

Machine Town
"Everybody knows Chicago is a Democratic town," Mark Brown wrote in a fine column on Sunday, "but you forget sometimes just how bleak the landscape can be for Republicans."

But just to be clear: Chicago is a "Democratic town" because the Cook County Democratic Party, a private organization, has hijacked the local government here and made it its own. It has nothing to do with ideology. I think it's more accurate to say Chicago is a Machine town, not a Democratic one. And certainly not a democratic one.

Michael Sneed says the JonBenet Ramsey case is "nothing" compared to the Peterson-Schuessler murders here in Chicago 45 years ago. Yeah, the cable news channels really went to town on that one.

When Sneed says "Now comes word," it means, "And another thing I read somewhere else . . . "

Supply Side Economics
Cook County has a novel approach to its budget woes: It's going to hire its way out of its deficit!

Pricey Propaganda
One of the more interesting factoids to come out of the Sun-Times report on recent Cook County hiring is that taxpayers are paying Chinta Strausberg $109,233 a year to spin them. Strausberg is the county's communications director, meaning her job is to direct communications away from the truth.

For example, Strausberg told the Sun-Times that the addition of 1,300 people to the county's payroll in the months after then-board president John Stroger suffered a stroke (and when the county was ostensibly under a hiring freeze) "is not a significant increase in hiring."

I think my favorite, though, is Strausberg's response to the revelation that Stroger patronage chief Gerald Nichols was drawing $114,000 annually from the county highway department, though his real job seemed to be opening mail and placing political cronies on the payroll.

"I'm not sure his job title, but I know he's going to give the residents of Cook County the bang for the buck," Strausberg said.

I think there's something else Nichols is giving Cook County residents for the buck.

Poor Whigham
James Whigham, who was John Stroger's chief of staff, thinks the Sun-Times is putting a bunch of "crap" out there. Such as the fact that his daughter, her parents, and her brother have all been on the county payroll since 2001.

Poor Pluto
In a sea of crap about Pluto, two pieces stand out.

* "Throw Pluto A Bone - It Deserves Star Status," which notes that the new planetary mnemonic is "My Very Efficient Mother Just Served Us . . . Nothing. And that's sad." (Paige Wiser)

* "In Pluto's Orbit," which reclassifies Tom Cruise as a "dwarf star" and the Chicago Transit Authority as the Chicago Transit Attempt. (Tempo Subcommittee on Reclassification)

Self-Awareness Gap
1. "But is too much being made of [Obama's] visit to the home of his late father, whom he met only once in his life?" the Tribune's Jeff Zeleny asks - in a front page story written from Kenya while traveling with the senator, along with Lynn Sweet of the Sun-Times and the rest of the media gaggle.

2. "Abeer Qassim al-Janabi is not a household name, though perhaps she should be. The 14-year-old girl was repeatedly raped, then shot to death in her home March 12. Her body was set on fire. Her mother, father and sister also were murdered," William Neikirk wrote in the Tribune on Sunday, in a piece headlined (and sub-headlined and sub-sub-headlined) "Where's The Outrage: U.S. Troops Have Been Accused Of Committing Atrocities In Iraq. Americans Should Care."

"It happened in Iraq, in the village of Mahmoudiya near Baghdad, in the so-called Triangle of Death, the most stressful, violent place in a stressful, violent country. The alleged perpetrators: American troops.

"Before the incident, the soldiers allegedly downed whiskey, played cards and hit golf balls. Afterward, they dined on grilled chicken wings.

"A similar act of violence here in the U.S. would have triggered overpowering outrage, non-stop TV coverage and a grave concern about our military. It might even have surpassed the wall-to-wall coverage that the arrest in the JonBenet Ramsey murder has received.

"Yet no great public outcry has arisen over one of the worst atrocities of the Iraq war."

Number of times Abeer Qassim al-Janabi's name had appeared in the Tribune before this article: 0.

Number of times JonBenet Ramsey's name appeared in the Tribune in the 10 days before Neikirk's complaint: 22.

Reporter Disqualification
"I don't remember attending a single party during college," the Tribune's Barbara Brotman wrote on Sunday.

Now, if she didn't remember any of the parties she went to during college, that would be one thing. But she didn't attend a single party. And she still got a job on a newspaper, which tells you everything you need to know about the state of the industry today.

Even worse, she attended Queens College when it was still tuition-free and every penny could be directed toward inebriation.

Sometimes I just don't understand people.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Where neither art nor commerce meets.


Posted on August 28, 2006

MUSIC - Holiday Hullabaloo.
POLITICS - Bank Profits Soaring.
SPORTS - Chicago vs. Michigan, 1903.

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