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The [Tuesday] Papers

1. How does Michael Sneed keep her (high-paying) job? Shouldn't someone with a track record like hers - full of errors, items read elsewhere passed off as her own, and status as a favorite patsy to pols everywhere - sort of be fired? Maybe the Sun-Times oughta put its Watchdogs team on it.

2. Compare and contrast.

The original Tribune story: "Plans for a Muslim cultural center in southeast DuPage County were sent back to square one today as the county's Zoning Board of Appeals chose to restart the public hearing process."

The CBS2 rip-and-read: "Plans to build a Muslim center in southeastern DuPage County are back at square one. The DuPage Zoning Board of Appeals has voted to restart the public hearing process."

And some folks think Google steals content.

*

This is one of the ways in which the public becomes so misinformed. For example, if the Tribune falsely reported that, say, Al Gore claimed he invented the Internet, CBS2 and every other radio and TV station in town would repeat the false claim. Then the columnists would weigh in making fun of Al Gore. Then the politicians would would blast Gore for his claim, and those blasts would be featured in television, newspaper and Internet news reports. Then the columnists and pundits and editorial writers would make hay. And nobody would bother to check for themselves whether that first report was accurate. And then people like me would point out that it wasn't, and then I would be attacked because everyone knows Al Gore said it. It was in the Tribune. They wouldn't get something like that wrong. I'm just stirring up trouble. People like me must have agendas, even though - irony alert! - we're the only ones acting like journalists.

*

This isn't to imply the Tribune got anything wrong with its DuPage report; I have no reason to believe it did and in this example the Trib is the victim. It's to show how mindlessly large sectors of our media simply repeat what one outlet has reported without acting like the independent news agencies they purport to be. And nowhere is this more evident than in political reporting.

Changing our political culture and discourse isn't just a job for elected officeholders and federal prosecutors. The media is the conduit through which this discourse takes place. It's time it fundamentally changed the way it tries to meet that responsibility.

*

Here's another instance: NBCChicago.com rewrites an explosive Sun-Times story to "make it their own," as the practice was once described to me. Now, again, I have no reason to doubt the original Sun-Times story; that isn't my point. But the papers have been known to, um, get things wrong every once in awhile. Or frame a story poorly. Or omit key facts. Again, I'm not in any way suggesting this is the case here; I'm merely observing that it's one thing to aggregate stories and point readers to what others are reporting but it's quite another to take those stories at face value without any critical analysis or independent confirmation and propagate them. And as we see in this space every day, quite a number of those stories are lacking.

Again, this is not to fault the Tribune or Sun-Times stories used here as examples. It's to fault the outlets that "stole" them. Do your own reporting or offer your own take, but don't just mindlessly repeat every premise. Especially during campaign season when that's just what political strategists try to instigate in order to ingrain certain associations into the minds of voters. Like advertising, it's a form of brainwashing; they are trying to get in your head.

3. "Chicago Man Angry With Mayor Daley Charged In Wrigley Bomb Plot."

Chicago Man apparently didn't know that A) Daley is a White Sox fan and B) He's already announced his retirement.

*

Yes, I know, I'm supposed to make a Dave Matthews Band joke here, but I think they've all been made. Feel free to send me yours, though.

4. No story in America about dead people voting is complete without a reference to Chicago.

*

But that might explain this.

5. How Quade Can Seal The Deal.

For example, win less.

6. "Recession ended in June 2009."

Yes, but that was Bush's recession. Now we're suffering from Obama's recession.

7. "Noting that the Illinois State Police (ISP) are not responding to lawful requests for documents under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois today asked a state court in Chicago to compel the police agency to turn over records about the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center (STIC)," the ACLU says in a press release.

8. A taste from this week's fabulous Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report:

"Opting to erase all doubt of their collective incompetence, the Cowboys' coaching staff ordered an end to the aggressive and effective defensive game plan that held the Bears to eight total yards in their first three offensive series.

"Sensing an opportunity to mystify the opposition, coordinator Mike Martz dialed up a series of elegant and complex plays certain to baffle the now relaxed Dallas defense. However, as evidenced by Devin Hester's completion-negating 'illegal formation' penalty in the second quarter, it seems the Bears skill players are often equally baffled by Martz's wizardry.

"Credit Jay Cutler's ability to work within the limitations of his personnel, as he wisely called two consecutive hot routes for confused receivers Devin Hester and Greg Olsen ('Run a slant . . . No the other way!' and 'Go over there for a while!' respectively) during Chicago's first touchdown drive."

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Organizationally cultured.



Permalink

Posted on September 21, 2010


MUSIC - Blues Fest 2017.
TV - 'The Worst FCC I've Ever Seen.'
POLITICS - Minimum Wage Hikes Work.
SPORTS - On Joe Louis, Race And Sports Heroes.

BOOKS - The Blood Of Emmett Till.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Artist As Alchemist.


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