Chicago - Mar. 19, 2022
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The [Tuesday] Papers

Hola, amigos! Been a long time since I rapped at ya.

So, as most of you probably know, I took the last couple of weeks off from this column - and largely though not totally the site - in order to both attend to other year-end matters and also to try to think through my 2021 plans.

I didn't get far.

I'm torn between too many interests, ambitions and desires. I have a couple of books in me, which I occasionally try to focus on until I'm diverted elsewhere. I still would love to execute the business plan for this site and my company, but I've truthfully pretty much given up on that. I desperately want to upgrade this site but the help I've been seeking to do so for years has not been forthcoming. I have podcast ideas! And I have great stories/projects to pitch as a freelance writer/reporter but no real good place to pitch them - local stuff that doesn't seem to fit with any outlet we have around here combined with a near-total distrust of the editing/project management capabilities of said outlets, based on shitty experience after shitty experience, and national stuff that I don't know where to go with.

But the real thing I want to do is edit. I'm really good at it, both from a journalism POV and as a manager of people. I finished just about every day managing a team that hovered around 25 as a census field supervisor this summer and fall wishing they were my reporting staff.

That's what I've wanted to do since I was a kid, believe it or not. I never really wanted to be a reporter; I wanted to be the person deciding what stories went on the front page.

I also didn't want to become an editor through the copy desk, which is bullshit, nor before I had the kind of reporting experience that I thought crucial to being a great editor.

I always studied the industry, too. I began reading Editor & Publisher at a young age and knew the mastheads of most papers in America almost as well as I knew the baseball rosters of every MLB team. I followed the industry's Wall Street analysts and digested the business fundamentals that veteran reporters in legacy newsrooms, among others, never understood. I designed - at great expense - a master's degree program at Northwestern to study newsroom management that combined courses from Kellogg, Medill and the speech communications department, which hosted me and offered classwork in media economics, as well as a certificate which I earned in telecommunications science, management and policy. That was what we called the online world back then - it was 1993.

While at Northwestern, I worked at the Newspaper Management Center (later renamed the Media Management Center), which put me into executive management programs and on projects such as The Local News Ideabook for Knight-Ridder. I know my stuff. (My resume needs refreshing, but whatever.)

Of course, to dumbfounded media folk in these parts, I was a "self-styled" media critic when I started a weekly online media column at Chicago magazine. Later, when I started this site, I was attacked by small-minded, thin-skinned journos who couldn't imagine that someone might know a few things that they did not; or at least thought they were immune to criticism if they took you out to lunch once, because that's not only the Chicago Way but the Media Way.

And don't get me started on the foundations and funders. My god.

I do not like big back-slappy families of insularness such as the media gang - in large part because they know not how lame they are. Also, I'm not a cultural fit for the mainstream (though I dislike the ideological cliquishness and hypocrisy of the alternate world; I live in the margins, the in-betweens, which isn't easy my friends!)

Everyone telling everyone else how great they are, ugh. How many times can I show you how objectively awful Fran Spielman is? Journos don't like facts, either. They adopt ideologies of their own - narratives, we often call them. Groupthink is a real thing - and one we should be piercing daily, even among ourselves, not adopting.

I've wanted out - of Chicago, of this site - for many years now, as many of you know. For example, this was five years ago - and probably five years after I first thought, "This isn't gonna work. Not here at least."

Every day I see work in the media that carries literal falsehoods, besides false frames, shitty narratives, products of groupthink, stenography, undue deference to officials, all the media sins that have been chronicled for decades and yet remain present and, in some cases, worse than ever (see polling and soap opera political reporting).

It doesn't have to be that way. We can be better. How? By caring enough while losing the arrogance and insecurity (the worst combination around) to acknowledge that much of what the media does is lazy; that the job isn't about desiring proximity to power; by taking criticism seriously and simply - quite simply - changing the way the work is done to be better.

I just don't think the media, by and large, cares.


I've always had a twin journalistic ambition: to be a columnist. To be a funny, insightful writer. In some ways, I have achieved those goals: I write a column and edit a website! But not in the way I want. In some ways, I'm not a management type. On the other hand, management types are the banes of our existence. That's always been one of my main points.


Anyway, I don't yet know what 2021 will hold for me and this site. I'm still trying to work through it. (The site has already gone through several iterations, really. We used to be wholly stocked with original material. For a bunch of reasons, in recent years we've become more like an Utne Reader or Harper's - an aggregation of curated and found material that suits our sensibility.)

I have so many stories to tell - stories about this site, about funders (potential and real), stories about all kinds of bizarre media interactions as a freelancer - that I don't know what to do first. The only motivation I've lost is to chronicle the daily ins-and-outs of the city council and county board and the politicos who pass for celebrities here, the noxious strategists and the PR industrial complex. I still save all the articles that beg for clarifying and correcting, but I find it hard to essentially keep writing the same items over and over again. Don't y'all get it by now?

So I don't quite know yet where this site is going - if anywhere - in the new year. Maybe I'll know by the end of the month. In the meantime, all I can say is watch this space and find me on Twitter.


I probably write this column every year but again, whatever.


On the Beachwood since the last time I yapped at ya . . .

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #337: Bears Back Into Nonsense
The prism of snagging a COVIDY playoff spot doesn't change the reality of the Bears' performance. Plus: Breaking Up With Jed Hoyer; Bulls No Longer Totally Sucking; Jonathan Toews' Mystery Illness; Evanston vs. Champaign; Citrus Pat; and Red Stars Blockbuster.


The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #336: All That's Left For The Bears Is The Rare Measuring Stick Lid-Closer
Only the Packers can tell us what's real now. Including: Is Matt Nagy All Growns Up?; Trubinsky; Jets Sweep. Plus: Bullskill, Blackhawks Camping, and Evanston vs. Champaign.


Counting The Negro Leagues
Not as easy - or valiant - as you may think.


China's Repression And The Winter Olympics
Human Rights Watch has extensively documented serious human rights abuses in China, and that the human rights environment has deteriorated significantly since the Beijing Olympics in 2008.


Recall! Sriracha Chicken Ravioli
"The product labeled as 'FRESH THYME FARMERS MARKET CHICKEN RAVIOLI Ovals' was formulated with a different sriracha chili sauce than normally utilized in the product formulation because the firm was unable to obtain the usual brand from their supplier. The sriracha chili sauce used on Dec. 8, 2020 contains soy, while the sauce normally used in the formulation does not."


Meet The First U.S. Collegiate Athlete To Capitalize On Name, Image And Likeness Rights
NAIA beats NCAA to the punch.


A WTF Timeout
Let's ring in the New Year with New Sewage while we calculate how many Chicago cops it takes to break into the wrong naked woman's apartment.



Homeowners of Chicago - What is a normal water bill?? from r/chicago





HE NEVER GOT UP - The Sad Story of a Locally Famous Chicago Boxer


A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find at our Facebook page.

Must-Read | Statement Of Congressman Jamie Raskin And Sarah Bloom Raskin On The Remarkable Life Of Tommy Raskin.


Without God Or Reason.


A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.






The Beachwood Twit Line: Twit it good.


Posted on January 5, 2021

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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