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The [Thursday] Papers

Is it just me, or is it odd that the federal corruption trial of the former Streets and San Commissioner, particularly placed within the context of the conviction of Robert Sorich, the mayor's former patronage chief, has bascially been buried by not only the newspapers but local TV news?

Seems to me that this is sort of a big deal - some might even say "front-page news."

After all, the crimes that Sorich was convicted of, like those alleged against Al Sanchez, were for the benefit of one man: Mayor Richard M. Daley.

In fact, the defense in each case has as much as said so.

On Wednesday, Sanchez's lawyer, Thomas Breen, said his client was merely a dupe used by political powers greater than he. What powers might he be speaking of?

* Trash Man Trial Goes To Jury. My summary of closing arguments.

Bye Bye, Illini!
The Beachwood Brackets are in.

"An International Olympic Committee team arrives the beginning of next month to scrutinize Chicago's suitability to host the 2016 Games," the Tribune reports. "When they arrive, the international officials will see smooth, pitch-black pavement ringing the Washington Park ball fields where Mayor Richard Daley wants to build an Olympic stadium.

"The work raised questions for some who that fear taxpayers will suffer as the city directs scarce resources toward impressing Olympic officials."

1. Is anyone really surprised?
2. The work raised questions for some? Why not just say it? The reporting in the story shows conclusively that the city placed pleasing the IOC in its effort to land the Olympics over the more immediate needs of residents. Now, is that wrong? If getting the Olympics is Daley's top priority - and it is - then it makes perfect sense. The Trib may have more directly said what's on its mind, though: The paving is an example of how city services will be prioritized should the city get the Games. In fact, it's an example of how city services are already being prioritized. Now go find other examples - they abound. That's really the story.

The Daley-Weis Show
I think it was Ben Bradlee who once said "We don't print the truth, we print what people tell us."

Yes, but as a Far Side cartoon once said, "We don't have to be just sheep!"

So this sort of story really bugs me:

"Mayor Richard Daley on Wednesday shrugged off a union 'no-confidence' vote against Police Supt. Jody Weis, saying he still had confidence in him.

"'He's done a tremendous job. He's a very good, honest superintendent,' Daley said. 'He has a difficult job'."

Now, I saw the videotape of that press conference and it was clear that Daley wasn't sincerely shrugging off the no-confidence vote or sincerely - and certainly not enthusiastically - backing his police chief.

If you watch the tape, Daley is doing what he does so often: he's evading questions, filibustering by making grade-school statements ("He's a very good, honest superintendent"), and searching with darting eyes for a way out.

Now, is that "subjective?" No!

You can report what you see . . .

"Mayor Daley on Wednesday refused to answer questions about embattled police chief Jody Weis, whose management stumbles and lack of acceptance by the rank-and-file have not only led to complaints that officers have reined in their policing, but saw Daley strip Weis of emergency management authority the mayor once used to justify the chief's $300,000 salary.

"Weis's problems led to a rare vote of no-confidence by the Fraternal Order of Police this week, just the latest in a string of challenges to Weis's competence.

"He's done a tremendous job," Daley said, an assessment that even Weis's biggest supporters would likely be too embarrassed to make.

"As the mayor often does when confronted with questions he'd rather not answer, Daley tried to play off the continuing drama surrounding his hand-picked police chief by issuing odd and non-responsive statements such as 'He's a very good, honest superintendent'."

Is there anything in there that isn't objectively true?

One might add: "Even disobeying a federal judge's order to turn over a list of cops with repeated citizen complaints filed against them did nothing to improve Weis's standing with officers; in the end Weis gave in and the episode was largely seen as a stunt to win over officers on the street."

The Trib story ends like this:

"Weis, in a statement, said the department always evaluates its resources and has been deploying officers to specialized units to target high-crime areas."

In the print version, we get this tacked on:

"He said he welcomes the chance to explain the efforts."

Why not just publish "In a statement, Weis said the department is doing an excellent job and welcomes the chance to tell everyone just how excellent a job it is doing. God bless America!"?

I mean, really. Write with some knowingness; readers want savvy, not bullshit.

Wrong Turn
Single-copy sales of the Sun-Times will go up on March 30 from 50 cents to 75 cents.

I'm kind of thinking they should have gone the other way and made the street version of the paper free. Go after RedEye and the Trib tab. On the other hand, increase the price for home subscriptions because delivering them is, you know, expensive. The bet that revenue will increase despite what will surely be a drop in sales is not only risky, but not a great strategy going forward, unless the idea is to save money by printing fewer papers to begin with.

Transition Phase
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is losing a lot of manpower in its shift to becoming online-only, but let's see how it rebuilds its business. Meanwhile, Puget Sound Public Radio has just hired a full-time investigative reporter for the first time.

Also, AOL is not just hiring sports columnists like Jay Mariotti (and they're rumored to be hiring beat reporters as well) but political reporters.

"AOL is investing in a big way in news and in old school journalism," veteran journalist Melinda Henneberger says. "AOL is setting out to create 'quality news sites that have zero aggregation, original content, that pay writers a living wage'."

This is a good thing, people. Embrace it . . . and help shape it so others don't instead.

Peotone Poop
"We will build a third airport in the south suburbs of Chicago, and we will build it as fast as humanly possible," Gov. Pat Quinn said during his budget address on Wednesday. So noted.

Chicago's New Beer Barons?
Meet the couple behind Ravenswood's Metropolitan Brewing.

The courts will have to decide if TARP passes the constitutional laugh test, our very own Sam Singer writes in "Is TARP Legal?"

Black Spring
There was a star above your manger, and I followed it to the Empty Bottle. In Chicagoetry.

Trekkie Barcalounger
We had it first at Reading With Scissors. Guess who's got it now?

The Beachwood Tip Line: Scanned and ready.


Posted on March 19, 2009

MUSIC - December In Chicago Drill.
TV - Don't Weaken Media Ownership Limits.
POLITICS - Another SRO Crisis.
SPORTS - TrackNotes: Mom.

BOOKS - How Stereo Was Sold To A Skeptical Public.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicago Footwork King's Bail Battle.

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