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The [Tuesday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

Just a few programming notes. Not only have we upgraded our Movable Type publishing system to the latest, snazziest version, but over the weekend we moved to our fantastic new web host, Hosting Matters.

Because of the transition, some of you may have seen Saturday's edition of the Beachwood instead of Monday's edition at times yesterday. I'll leave the Monday edition appended below to today's column.

Our tech issues and other pending matters have left me in need of a day off from columning. But I'd like to point out the fantastic new material we have elsewhere on the Beachwood today, and I've already made a few posts at NBCChicago.com this morning.

First, let me say that Beachwood legal correspondent Sam Singer's piece, "Why Google Will Win," posted on Monday, certainly made us look good. By the end of the day, the news arrived that AP was threatening to sue aggregators, though it didn't name Google specifically.

Besides the persuasive fair use argument that Singer lays out, here's what really gets me: Newspapers act like they don't exploit other people's work for revenue, but how much money have they made off of Oprah and her likeness? They don't sell ads against her? They don't make money describing paid sporting events whose exclusive rights are held by private leagues? They don't review works of art or compile listings or even now excerpt from blogs without explicit permission?

Please.

The smartest thing AP and the newspaper industry could do is enlist the aid of Google and all the other technologists, marketers and Internet theorists out there to figure out how they could be doing a better job at what they do. Start simple by teaching reporters how to write stories with frickin' links in them, for crying out loud. Wasting time, money and energy on threats and lawsuits is wasting time, money and energy on threats and lawsuits.

In Today's Beachwood
* Opening Day. In four short video parts.

* Algren's Last Night In Chicago.

* 20 Tweets: Richard Roeper.

* Sex, politics and Bloodshot Records. Welcome to our new weekly Bloodshot Briefing.

* Rally for Change, Illinois.

Elsewhere In The Beachwood Family
* Teen Spirit, Plastic Surgery Puzzle, Salad Spritzers, and Renuzit Racing. In Reading With Scissors.

* The Greening of Southie. In Ferdy On Films.

* Devin Hester will be back to being ridiculous with Jay Cutler in the fold.

On NBC Chicago
* Obama's Olympics. How he'll seal the deal.

* Overexposing Alexi. Too soon to be sick of him yet?

* Wisconsin's Olympics, Too

The [Monday] Papers
In its current print edition, the Reader celebrates the 100th anniversary of Nelson Algren's birth with the publication of "Entrapment," a previously unpublished work now collected with a few others in Entrapment and Other Writings.

Don DeLillo and Willem Dafoe will be among the luminaries giving Algren readings tonight at the Steppenwolf; a slide show by Art Shay is also a featured attraction.

On Sunday the Tribune's Rick Kogan also marked the publication of Entrapment and Algren's anniversary.

"Members of the International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission are currently in town," Kogan wrote. "I have no doubt that what I believe will be Algren's most enduring work, Chicago: City on the Make, will not make it into whatever package of goodies these visitors cart home. Too bad. There are few writers who have understood and articulated the contrasts and crimes and complexities of Chicago more powerfully than Algren."

Indeed. I'm sure I've done this before, but my favorite Algren passage comes from City on the Make and is true today as it was then:

"The hard necessity of bringing the judge on the bench down into the dock has been the peculiar responsibility of the writer in all ages of man. In Chicago, in our own curious span, we have seesawed between blind assault and blind counter-assault, hanging men in one decade for beliefs which, in another, we honor others.

"And that there has hardly been an American writer of stature who has not come up through The Chicago Palatinate, was an observation which, when somebody first made it, was still true. God help the poor joker who comes up through Old Seesaw Chicago today.

"For we are now in a gavel-and-fingernail era. Punitive cats have the upper hand. The struggle is not to bring the judge into the dock, but to see who can get closest to him on the bench. For upon the bench is where the power is, and elbows are flying."

Elbows are flying.

Opening Day
White Sox opener notwithstanding, baseball is upon us again. And here at the Beachwood, that means The Cub Factor and The White Sox Report. Truly, there is no better weekly update on our favorite teams anywhere in the universe.

"The Cubs embark on the most meaningless regular season in the history of the franchise," Marty Gangler writes today. Find out what he means.

And Phil Barnes, who takes over The White Sox Report this season from the estimable Ricky O'Donnell, his Top Ten Chicago Sports stablemate, offers not just his projected Opening Day lineup but what the lineup will look like on May 1.

*

Meanwhile, our very own Jim Coffman makes The Case for Cutler in today's SportsMonday. And as usual, he's right.

Why Google Will Win
Sam Zell and his fellow newspaper owners are on the wrong side of the digital revolution. Beachwood legal correspondent Sam Singer explains.

The Q Factor
"My parking meter is running down," Democratic Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley quipped, mocking the city's recent rate increase. "Does anyone have 400 quarters?"

*

What If They Gave An Election And Nobody Came?

David Axelrod: Millionaire Lobbyist
AT&T, Comcast, and Bally Total Fitness made him rich.

*

Even more aggravating is that White House social secretary Desiree Rogers pulled down more than $1.8 million as the CEO of People's Gas for just the first half of 2008. People's Gas!

And that's not all.

"[S]he earned $350,000 in salary at Allstate Financial as Social Networking president; $150,000 in director fees at Equity Residential and $20,000 in board fees at Blue Cross Blue Shield," Lynn Sweet reports.

Halting Hendon's Hijinks
"Gov. Pat Quinn has halted a $9.7 million state grant program whose recipients included the The Al Malik Temple for Universal Truth, which spent $20,000 in taxpayer funds to teach kids about how their name and birth date influenced their destiny."

Indecent Exposure
"Have you no decency" Gov. Pat Quinn asks former state Rep. Kurt Granberg (D-Carlyle).

Granberg received a $40,000-a-year pension sweetener after serving just three weeks as director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources before Quinn fired him. Granberg says he's keeping the money.

"I don't think it has merit," Granberg said about Quinn's call to give the money back to taxpayers.

Granberg says the law doesn't allow a giveback, anyway.

Okay, here's an idea: Give the money to charity. Every year.

Expert Witnesses
Is there any actual evidence anywhere that bolsters the claims of Chicago 2016 that hosting the Olympics will provide an economic gain to the city? If only reporters would quote the research as much as they quote the out-of-thin-air claims by bid organizers. Don't facts mean anything?

Of course, it's too late anyway. Reporters should have done their jobs long before the bid got this far along. Now, win or lose, nothing will derail the effort.

And yet, those pesky facts slowly roll in. Here now comes the Tribune's Steve Chapman with this:

"Boosters promise gains in the form of infrastructure improvements and a boom in tourism. But Victor Matheson, an economist at College of the Holy Cross, has found that the glow of staging major sporting events like the Super Bowl, the World Cup or the Olympics 'tends not to translate into any measurable benefits to the host city'."

If there are academics out there who have actually run the numbers and come to a different conclusion, I haven't found them.

Not only that, but money diverted - even from private sources - to the Olympics comes with a price.

"Has anyone considered all the institutions that will suffer because donations and entertainment outlays will be diverted from them to the Olympics?" Chapman asks.

No, that really hasn't been discussed. And again, it's too late now.

The Olympics would be a blast for Pat Ryan and the rest of the Daley crew, and it would certainly be fun to have here. But no one should be misled about which end of the transaction we'd be on.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Elbow-free.



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Posted on April 7, 2009


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