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The [Monday] Papers

Just an abbreviated version of the Papers this morning as I tend to other business. Tomorrow I'll return with a full column and new offerings throughout the site.

Loafing's Losers
"The owners [of the Reader] in Chicago sold out last summer to an unfortunately named outfit, Creative Loafing from Atlanta, which has mandated cuts across the organization. It is as if Creative Loafing executives bought a shiny new doll and then once they got their hands on it, felt compelled to tear its head off," media columnist David Carr writes in the New York Times this morning.

"Ben Eason, chief executive of Creative Loafing, said, 'We are not trying to make any other statement here other than it is a competitive world out there and we are doing what we can to make sure we are putting out an excellent paper in the communities we serve.'"

And then there are the communities we don't care to serve, Eason added. We're putting out lousy papers there.

"There is a chance that historians will examine this period in American history and wonder if journalism left the field. With a lack of real-time annotation, wholesale business swindles and rogue actions by sitting governments will go uncovered," Carr writes.

"In part, it is the triumph of the spinners, top to bottom. Since the media reached the height of its powers in the 1970s, there has been a pervasive effort to gain custody of public information in both the public and private sector. A working reporter cannot walk into a Gap store in a mall, let alone a police station, and ask a question without being swarmed by bureaucracy."

More than that, I would add, this is an age when the bean counters, marketers and greedy corporate suits have completed their victory in an age-old battle against the very journalists upon whose work they profit. This is a battle that has always existed in the industry, but newsrooms have lost by getting arrogant and lazy while remaining uneducated about the business side of their business. Instead of scrutinizing the false claims of their corporate masters the way journalists might be expected to, journalists of this era instead have absorbed the marketing values and selfishness of their paymasters while chasing off the kind of creativity and imagination that could very well have saved their organizations from the kind of doom - oh boo-hoo, our criminally huge profit margins aren't as fantastically fat as they once were - that has become the norm as actual, real reporting disappears when it is needed most.

"Without John Conroy's stories, the public would have never believed what happened to my son," the mother of Aaron Patterson told Carr. "It is so important to have a reporter who knew the whole story, who did the reporting, and told people, over and over, what was really going on."

Ben Eason and Reader editor Alison True don't care about all that. They've got entertainment listings to revamp.

Torture Town
"The City of Chicago is preparing to pay nearly $20 million to four men who were once sent to death row after interrogations that they say amounted to torture by the Chicago police, the city's law department said on Friday," the New York Times reported on Saturday.

"The four men were among scores of black men who reported being tortured, beaten with telephone books, and even suffocated with plastic typewriter covers during police interrogations in the 1970s and 1980s, special prosecutors found last year.

"Of the proposed settlement, Flint Taylor, a lawyer for one of the men, Leroy Orange, said, 'It speaks volumes about the seriousness of the systematic torture, abuse and cover-up that went on in the city of Chicago for decades."

News of the settlement was leaked on Friday so it would melt away in the little-read Saturday newspapers - and while the mayor is away in Italy. He is so impassioned about the torture that went on during his two terms as Cook County state's attorney and millions of dollars the taxpayers will shell out because of it on his watch, including millions the city initially spent fighting the lawsuits against it, that he was too choked up to comment.


The Weekend Desk Report
While Weekend Desk Editor Natasha Julius is on assignment with Rod Blagojevich for her upcoming report Weekend With The Governor - it turns out his weekends are a lot like his weekdays; you know, a lot of puttering around the house - the rest of us underlings are keeping an eye on the following stories for you over the next couple of days.

Brain Scan
A new National Intelligence Estimate has concluded that President Bush doesn't have any.

Pen Pals
President Bush has written a letter to North Korea strongman Kim Jong-il begging him to continue his nuclear weapons program so somebody in the Axis of Evil is actually a threat.

White Phone
First Daughter Jenna Bush gave her dad a call from the set of Ellen this week and, lo and behold, her mom answered and handed the phone over to the president. "Are you mad, dad?" Jenna asked. "No," the president said, "I'm just sitting here writing a letter to Kim Jong-il. Let me run this by you and see what you think. Dear Kim . . . "

Religious Freedom
Mitt Romney gave a speech about religious liberty this week in an attempt to soothe the fears of voters who are absolutely freaked out by Mormonism's tenet that Jesus will not only return to set up a thousand-year kingdom on Earth, but that he will do so in Jackson County, Missouri. Romney noted that some scholars translating ancient texts think the kingdom will actually be based in Des Moines, Iowa, while others say Manchester, New Hampshire.

It was revealed this week that the CIA destroyed videotapes of suspected terrorist interrogations that could have been used as evidence of the torture we know they did but the president denies. The CIA says they weren't destroying evidence, however; they were just showing suspects what would happen to them if they didn't cooperate.

Torture Tax
The city of Chicago has agreed to pay out $19.8 million to four African-American men who were tortured by the Chicago Police Department. The police department maintains that they weren't torturing the suspects; they were just showing the suspects what would happen if they didn't cooperate.

Mayor MIA
So that's why the mayor is in Italy.

Bail Bondsman
Barry Bonds pleaded not guilty this week to federal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Bonds also denied once again ever knowingly using steroids; instead, he said, he was just showing his muscles what would happen if they didn't cooperate.

Bear Down
Bears coach Lovie Smith was also reportedly traveling to Italy.

Grammy Mammy
Amy Winehouse garnered six Grammy nominations this week including one for Best Sad Sorry Spectacle and another in Best Fucked-Up Chick Singer Whom The Media Loves To Alternately Glamorize And Scold As They Exploit Her Deep Personal Problems For Ratings And Newsstand Sales.

Snow Job
Finally, snow made a rare appearance this week in Chicago and citizens were completely caught unaware of what to do with the strange, icy substance. Thankfully, the media brought it's "A" game to the table and calmed the hordes with such soothing advice as "Traffic may be moving a bit slower today" and "Remember, if you have a heart condition, be careful shoveling." Because there's a good chance we might have forgotten!

The Beachwood Tip Line: Now hiring.


Posted on December 10, 2007

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike An Old Story.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio: Kanye, Chili, Jimmy, Tarik.

BOOKS - Conway Barbour & The Black Middle Class.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Recall! Malone's Pork Head Cheese.

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