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The [Tuesday] Papers

The Chicago Tribune explains its reporting in the George Ryan jury mess quite satisfactorily today. Columnist Eric Zorn adds some interesting details.

The newspaper did its job. I don't see how it could or should have handled this story any differently.

But can we just move on to the appeal now?

Bound by Gag? One thing continues to confuse me, however, and I regret that I haven't had time to track it down myself. Perhaps a reader can help.

In an earlier story on the now-expelled jurors, the paper said this: "The Tribune did not contact the juror for comment because doing so could violate a court order not to communicate with jurors during a trial."

In today's story in which the paper explained its actions, the Tribune said this: "Under normal circumstances, the reporters would then contact the subject of the story for comment. But an order from Pallmeyer prohibited contact with the jurors while the case is ongoing."

Surely Pallmeyer's gag order doesn't apply to reporters as well as the participants of the trial? Wouldn't that be extraordinary, not to say unconstitutional? I've never heard of a gag order being extended to reporters covering a trial.

It would be another thing if the paper decided to respect the gag order to avoid "tampering" with the jury. But for the media to accept a gag order on itself is a wholly different matter.

What if, for example, a juror called the newspaper to say he or she had been offered money to cause a mistrial? Or that the jurors were reading newspaper accounts of the trial during deliberations? Would the reporter taking that call say, "I'm sorry, but we're under a gag order. Tell it to the judge."?

Please clarify, Tribune.

Over at The Bright One: Now that the two jurors causing this mess have been dismissed, the Tribune rightly felt it was okay to name them, and even plaster a photo of one of them on the front page.

The Sun-Times, a daily reminder of what happens when you schedule ethics class too early to make, what with all the drinking, and you keep forgetting to borrow someone's notes, declined to name names "because a gag order in place bars them from responding."

But the jurors did respond, if only in the form of Robert Pavlick telling reporters outside his home, as quoted in the Tribune, "You're going to waste a lot of valuable time standing out here. I will give a statement when the trial is over."

The two jurors may still be under a gag order--though it's not entirely clear that they ought to be--but the decision not to comment is still theirs, and more importantly, their identities are newsworthy.

There is nothing unfair about naming them amidst publishing details of the public forms they filled out during jury selection or any other information in the public record.

The Trials of the Dan Ryan
Amidst the George Ryan hubbub, don't miss the Trib's front page story about how you, dear taxpayer, are being ripped off by a few folks allegedly skimming from state funds meant to help drivers navigate the Dan Ryan reconstruction.

Legislator Hendon Fails His Audition
I don't know what's worse, the fact that our state legislature, much like many of our other political bodies, seems to be inhabited by overgrown children, or the fact that its members are less witty than your average 7-year-old.

Daley Watch
"You'd be bankrupt tomorrow if you take every bid that came down from contractors," the mayor is quoted as saying in the Sun-Times. "You want us to accept all the bids? Then why don't you just join the contractors association. That's stupid."

I'm pretty sure the question put to the mayor wasn't, "Mr. Mayor, we see that the city rejected all the bids for a runway project at O'Hare. Why doesn't the city accept every bid it gets?"

Why does the City Hall press corps put up with this?

One More and It's a Trend
The embattled Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau has also issued a gag order, which was promptly leaked to the media. The system works.

Ray of Demographic Sunshine
Editor & Publisher magazine has named the Daily Herald's Doug Ray the publisher of the year.

The magazine says that the suburban paper "is proving that a suburban daily can fend off a powerful big-city competitor and ambitious mid-sized dailies, take advertising market share from long-time category leaders, and grow circulation while the rest of the industry stalls--all the while investing in the areas many metros are scaling back: journalism, production equipment and circulation service."

Or maybe the paper is proving that, like a rich suburban kid, it was born in the right place at the right time. I'd be more impressed if the paper could show us an expansion plan that didn't correspond to income quintiles.

But what really caught my eye in this story is E&P's mention that the Daily Herald has 60 more employees than the Sun-Times.

What E&P got wrong is that that says a lot more about the Sun-Times's management than the Daily Herald's.

Catty Cat
Chicago artist Cat Chow, known for making clothing out of unusual items such as dollar bills and chain mail, was caught stowing away on a flight to Texas and now faces a federal charge.

"Maybe she'll learn how to make a dress out of license plates," says Tim Willette.

News from Beachwood HQ
It only took about three months to navigate the bureaucracy of the Secretary of State's Office, but The Beachwood Media Company is now officially incorporated in the State of Illinois. We will start bidding on roadway contracts shortly.

The Beachwood Tip Line: The best alternate route yet.



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Posted on March 28, 2006


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Charter Schools Complicit With Segregation.
SPORTS - USA Gymnastics Bans Illinois Coach.

BOOKS - The Randomness Of Harvard Admissions.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Public Lands Matter.


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