The [Thursday] Papers
This isn't the most important story in the news today, but it's so poorly executed that it could serve as a good lesson for the kids out there.
"A $119,184-a-year deputy commissioner charged with providing shelter and emergency services for Chicago's homeless has resigned after getting into an accident in a city car while allegedly driving drunk," Fran Spielman reports in the Sun-Times in a story promoted on its front page.
Spielman goes on to note that "[James] Lobianco's charge came three days before the 26-year-old son of Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) was charged with a DUI in a state-issued vehicle."
In other words, a coincidence occurred!
Spielman also recalls an incident involving former Streets and Sans commission Al Sanchez in which "It is unclear whether anyone involved in the crash was drinking."
And that is relevant how?
If Spielman - and/or her editors - felt the need to pad out the story, they could have just done a better job reporting on what they had.
For example, Spielman writes that "Anne Sheahan, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Family and Support Services, said Lobianco 'offered his resignation' last Friday and it was 'accepted' Monday."
Doesn't the city have an employee assistance program?
Was there a pattern here? Previous incidents or other workplace problems?
Spielman also quotes Sheahan saying:
"Employees [on-call] 24/7 have the opportunity to participate, with $200 deducted from their paycheck that goes for maintenance and insurance. The co-pay entitles them to utilize a car for both personal and work purposes."
Spielman has always been a quote-abuser. You don't quote facts. You don't quote someone saying "The show will begin at 9." You verify facts and publish them; quotes are for unique expressions.
Better Spielman would have asked for a copy of the policy Sheahan is talking about. Who knows, maybe there's a story there!
And if a reporter truly wanted to make a connection to Cullerton and other incidents, why, that sounds like a story for Sunday about either the use of government vehicles or about how government units handle DUIs among employees.
If any of this means that a story wouldn't have been ready to go for today, well, I don't think the public would have been ill-served by having to wait a few days.
The Sun-Times snippet leaves out a lot. For example:
"The Obama administration crowed about the 'turnaround' at GM and fellow bailout recipient Chrysler LLC, saying the government's unpopular rescue of Detroit's automakers is paying off."
Why is that important? Because it's bullshit.
"Well, it's good news they're paying back the loan," TARP inspector general Neil Barofsky told Fox News yesterday. (Alert: Just because something is on Fox News doesn't make it untrue; Barofksy was appointed by George W. Bush but is reportedly a Democrat). "The one thing a lot of people overlook with this is where they got the money to pay the loan. It isn't from earnings. They didn't earn an extra four-and-a-half billion dollars, it's another pool of TARP money."
Second, the AP story notes near the end that "taxpayers are still expected to lose about $36 billion on the bailouts of automakers," which kind of puts a different spin on things.
Isn't one of the first rules of newspapering to not mislead readers?
With this kind of news coverage, you have to wonder why GM spends (taxpayer?) money buying full-page ads like the one in the Tribune today stating "We've repaid our government loan. In full. With interest. Five years ahead of the original schedule."
But even if GM's claim was true, it would raise another question:
"I am saying if it was so onerous a year ago that they needed all this money, with no hope of surviving [if] they didn't get all this money, and a year or so later they're giving back the money, maybe all of us didn't need to give them money," Barofsky said.
And The Band Played On . . .
Big Z to Big B
The Week in Political Video
The [Michael McCaskey] Papers
The Fretgood Revolution
National Socialism Alert!
Or is it the rising tide of fascism we should fear?
And now I see the evil behind trying to eliminate Saturday mail service; it's just the start!
The Beachwood Tip Line: Bulwark of democracy.
Posted on April 22, 2010
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