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The [Thursday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

I'll be at CommuniCamp today but I've prepared a column in advance. Maybe one the things we'll talk about is how to cope with former Tribune editors spreading into our ecosphere and sucking up resources.

1. "I've known Warren since we were both reporters at the Sun-Times in the mid-70s," Michael Miner writes. "I have great respect for him. But I think the message his appointment sends, to the Reader and to Chicago, is more ambiguous than Gilbert may realize. What we have is the appearance of one former Tribune managing editor, O'Shea, looking out for another.

"The Reader doesn't think of itself as a place to land; and it does think of itself as a paper launched - 38 years ago - as an alternative to staid dailies like the Tribune. 'Are there people there [at the Reader] who think, there's an alum of the almighty Tribune whom they might not particularly like overseeing them? Yeah, there might be,' Warren allows, and continues, 'It's a little bit weird for me. After all those years that I was seen as something of a Tribune iconoclast, to be seen now as a white-shirted Tribune managerial clone, or something."

Believe me, what passes for an iconoclast at the Tribune is still well within squaresville not only at the Reader but at many other newspapers across the land. Does anyone remember the Tribune feature sections being inconoclastic under Warren's leadership? His signature product was the ill-advised "Q" section, which readers of the Beachwood know stood for Quagmire.

Miner also points out that Warren has already promised - as publisher - to stick his hand into the editorial side of things, thus violating the separation of church-and-state most newsrooms at least pretend to maintain. That has to put both sides of the divide on edge; editor Alison True and her staff now have a new overlord who probably never even read their work when he was at the Tribune - because my experience is that shockingly few members of the local MSM do - now not only looking over their shoulders but trying to stick his fingers into the pot while also overseeing the ad staff, and the ad staff (and the rest of the business side) now wondering what it will be like to work for a boss whose only experience on that side of the fence comes from whatever trickled down from Tribune corporate that - as an iconoclast - he surely ignored.

*

Says Reader commenter Pelham on O'Shea's new project: "Am I missing something, but is this not just Trib refugees who got the MacArthur Foundation to give them money to basically keep doing the same stuff they were doing before, only now on a quasi-freelance basis?

"I'm not saying it's a bad idea - looks very interesting in fact - only that it's not super-innovative. The secret sauce looks like big shot connections to deep pocketed foundations."

Well, it certainly isn't a track record of innovation, that's for sure.

It's the Chicago Way. Pro bono services and office space provided by Jim Thompson's Winston & Strawn. Not even kidding.

*

I guess I need more failure on my resume to raise money.

2. Why the Tribune Company doesn't want to charge for online access.

3. Looks like New Mexico State!

Wow, that school must really suck.

I guess I need more failure on my resume.

4. Tank Johnson took time out from his busy schedule making millions playing for the Cincinnati Bengals to testify that he lied to police about the shooting at a River North nightclub that took his childhood friend's life.

I'm doing life all wrong.

5. "Chicago bank protests get wide coverage - elsewhere."

6. In his first commercial in his campaign for governor, former chairman of the Illinois Republican Party and wealthy scion Andy McKenna calls himself an outsider.

No, seriously.

The fundraising committee co-chair for his 2004 U.S. Senate bid, Pat Ryan, could not be reached for comment.

*

Enough with Rod Blagojevich's hair already. No one made fun of it until he got indicted. In fact, he was praised for having such a great head of hair; I remember how lonely it was arguing how much it sucked.

*

McKenna - like many candidates from time immemorial - promises to clean up Illinois. But he refuses to say whether he would do away with free CTA rides for seniors to help clean up the budget.

7. Mike Flannery joins the ranks of local "reporters" taking the claims of CeaseFire founder Gary Slutkin at face value. Flannery's report mentions a "new study," though it appears to reference an old study that I doubt Flannery has read. Flannery also fails to mention the state audit of CeaseFire that found the organization failed to track millions of dollars it was allotted. But after Flannery's report he and the CBS2 co-anchors personally endorsed the program and urged legislators to spend more taxpayer dollars supporting it.

*

Headline on the web version of the story: "$18 Million Plan Could Save 300 Lives A Year."

It could also save a million lives a year. Or not.

*

Through September 30, there were 348 murders recorded in Chicago. So Slutkin's plan could make us murder-free in, what, a year-and-a-half?

*

Murders are down 12 percent this year over last year. Not funding CeaseFire is working!

8. "You've heard about Chicago's huge budget hole," CBS2's Jim Williams began a report this week. "But you probably haven't heard about a billion dollar pot of money that some alderman now say could be a life-saver for people struggling to put a roof over their heads."

Huh. Now, why would CBS2's viewers have never heard of a billion-dollar pot of money just sort of laying around before?

9. "I really love it when we band together against the customers," our very own Patty Hunter writes in her latest installment of At Your Service. "There is no better way to create a sense of unity than to coalesce against the common enemy, which in this case are the douchebags that attempt to make our lives a little less enjoyable."

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Your meal is ready.



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Posted on October 29, 2009


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