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The [Wednesday] Papers

Where's the coverage?

That's the question Rich Miller asked on his Capitol Fax Blog yesterday about the race to replace Rahm Emanuel in Congress.

Answer: Noticeably missing.

But that's nothing new.

I've been writing for years that the Chicago media doesn't cover congressional and aldermanic races, first in my old Press Box column for Chicago magazine, and later here on the Beachwood.

"Tribune metro editor Hanke Gratteau [once] told me the paper didn't do more to cover city council races because it didn't think residents cared to read about races in wards other than their own," I wrote in 2006.

I wrote something similar in 2007 and I've made many other references to this major media malpractice, which is all the more galling when the papers criticize voters for not being more engaged.

Miller has also asked recently if the embarrassing performance covering Rod Blagojevich had changed his readers' opinions of the national media. He didn't mention coverage of Roland Burris, but he might as well have. As has been shown, Burris is far from the genteel man of integrity he was portrayed as. Of course, we all know what a terrible job the media did covering not only the run-up to the war in Iraq, but the whole of the Bush administration. In other words, awful media performance is not an isolated incident; it's the way they operate. It's systemic, like City Hall corruption and police brutality. (And if you think the lone exception was brilliance in covering the Obama campaign, your delusions are beyond healing.) The media's belated realization that it must change to survive is focused on everything but the actual conventions and culture of how it does its job. It's not about interactivity and multiple platforms and gimmicks and entertainment; technology is a tool. The endgame is journalism, and very few people inside newsrooms - or operating websites, for that matter - actually understand how to produce the kind of sophisticated reporting that is the most salable product we have, and for which unassailable brands can be built.

COMMENT 2:15 P.M.: A regular Beachwood reader writes:

Um, and what about the bottom-of-the-ballot races, like the judges? Is there a quantum lower than "nil"?

COMMENT 3:42 P.M.: A regular Beachwood reader writes:

When Drew Peterson's love life is in flux, who has the time to cover congressional races?

But I have a serious question. When did shit-on-the-ground-you-find-after-snow-melts become a news story? Sunday night I yelled at my boyfriend to watch a Channel-32 9pm news segment with me. I could not believe it dispatched a reporter/producer/videographer to Lincoln Park to talk to people about all the things found on sidewalks after the snow melted (sure there were gloves and cigarette butts, but the focus was on dog excrement [also, when did the preferred term to use on TV become "poo"? It was quite disconcerting when the news bunnies during their banter used that word numerous times]). Later, when I finally got around to reading the Sunday Trib, I learned Channel 32 probably cribbed the story from Mary Schmich and Eric Zorn. Unbelievable. And then there's Richard Roeper today mentioning sidewalk detritus. What the hell?

The Mayor Is A Liar
Why won't the media call Mayor Daley a liar?

The mayor was caught on camera recently saying "No, no, no" to a question asking if money for the so-called O'Hare Modernization Program was on his super-secret stimulus wish list.

Yesterday we learned that was a lie. Today, the Tribune reports that "Mayor Richard Daley met with lawmakers Tuesday to push for Chicago's share of a federal stimulus package, including $50 million he said would be crucial to keeping the expansion of O'Hare International Airport on track."

Upon hearing the news, Bensenville village president John Geils made plans to go to Washington himself to fight against the O'Hare aid.

President Obama should make good on his transparency rhetoric and make all wish lists public. Portions of the funds will be awarded in blocks; taxpayers should have a say in how that money gets spent.

After all, it's our money.

Give Me An "O"!
"[Obama] made significant concessions to Republican demands, most notably adding more tax cuts," the Sun-Times editorial page says today.

My understanding, in part from his own words, is that Obama made his tax cut proposals before meeting with Republicans in order to lure them to his side. And it didn't work. And now we're stuck with ill-advised Republicanish tax cuts.

That's Neil!
Oy. I don't even have the strength.

This was the Sun-Times cover story today, by the way.

Jumping Jack News Flash
"Only a few months before City Hall threatened to ax the [Jumping Jacks] program, the city signed a three-year deal to run it with a security firm owned by three former bodyguards for Mayor Richard Daley," the Tribune reports.

Why would the city hire a security firm to "run" the Jumping Jacks program? Don't you just, um, drive the, ah, Jacks out to city festivals, inflate them, and watch the kids play?

"The city will pay Security Management Group of America as much as $4.26 million under the agreement with the Mayor's Office of Special Events for 'staffing services for various city festivals'."

Whoa!

Um, maybe city festivals should be cancelled this year to save money.

"SMG was the low bidder for the deal, which also includes security work at Taste of Chicago."

This story is confusing me. So this is a security contract? And that includes security at all Jumping Jacks?

"The Daley administration previously had city workers staff the 74 Jumping Jacks loaned out for block parties, church picnics and other events. Officials say the program is run more efficiently by the private company than the city."

Let's outsource our patronage and cronyism, too. I'm sure the private sector could do a more "efficient" job.

Something doesn't smell right in this story, but I'm not sure the reporting is finished.

Terms of Service
I had some fun with the Tribune website yesterday. At one point in the afternoon, "Terms of Service" was listed as the site's most-viewed "story."

So I read it.

Wow!

The Trib is nuts.

"You may use the Content online only, and solely for your personal, non-commercial use, and you may download or print a single copy of any portion of the Content solely for your personal, non-commercial use, provided you do not remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from such Content."

So if I print out two copies of any article, I'm violating the terms!

"If you operate a Web site and wish to link to chicagotribune.com, you may do so provided you agree to cease such link upon request from chicagotribune.com."

Um, gee, thanks for your permission! But you can't make me take down a link any more than you can stop me from pointing to one of your newspapers blowing across the park.

"You may not republish any portion of the Content on any Internet, Intranet or extranet site or incorporate the Content in any database, compilation, archive or cache."

You mean like I just did?

And so on.

At the time, the story was rated one bad star. I clicked on the bad star and a message appeared saying "You hated this post."

Then I noticed the Digg tab, so I dugg it.

*

Most Viewed and Most E-Mailed are fun features, but they are poor metrics on which to base any sort of judgements. For example, how many people click on a story merely because they see it in one of those lists? You could put a story no one is reading on one of those lists and watch the clicks explode. And what if you put a category next to Most Viewed and Most E-Mailed called Most Important? I bet those stories would get a lot more clicks too.

Programming Note
* Peoples Gas Journal. Read my tale, tell your own.
* Police Story. Kid cop co-opted.
* CHA plan fritters away. Is Plan for Transformation dead?
* Dating Drew. What's next?
* Being Bill Daley. What's next?

The Beachwood Tip Line: Now in paisley.



Permalink

Posted on February 11, 2009


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BOOKS - Inside The Book Of The Dead.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Lakes, Cheese & You.


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