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The [Wednesday] Papers

"A man released in March after serving 25 years behind bars for a 1986 double murder he did not commit filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday alleging he was tortured into confessing by detectives working under disgraced former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge," the Tribune reports.

Can you imagine serving 25 years in prison for a double murder you did not commit? And doing so after having been tortured into a confession?

Meanwhile, elsewhere in America . . .

Sun-Times News Cooperative
"A group of investors led by Merrick Ventures LLC CEO Michael Ferro Jr. and Madison Dearborn Partners LLC Chairman John Canning Jr. is expected to pay more than $20 million to acquire Chicago's second-largest newspaper company, Sun-Times Media Holdings LLC, according to sources familiar with the transaction," Crain's reports.

Just to put that into context: Tribune Company paid $35 million for Chicago magazine in 2002.


Ferro and Canning are on the board of the Chicago News Cooperative.

"Some members of the CNC board other than Mr. Canning and Mr. Ferro have signed non-disclosure agreements regarding the transaction, according to sources familiar with the situation, suggesting CNC may also be involved in the deal in some way," Crain's reports.

My understanding is that the CNC is indeed involved; in fact, this deal may have saved the CNC, on its last legs according to what I've been hearing, from utter failure. But I don't know just how it may be folded into or survive alongside the Sun-Times.


"Earlier this month it made a major move to increase revenue by announcing it would start requiring paid subscriptions to its website after readers have had 20 free visits in a 30-day period."

That's okay, there's not more than 20 stories a month worth reading anyway.


Still, it's a ridiculous strategy. Their most valuable property is the work of Roger Ebert, and that remains free. Here's an idea: Charge for Ebert, who accounts for an insanely high percentage of the paper's web traffic, and keep your news free. Create an Ebert Movie Club and charge a membership fee. Deliver a daily Ebert e-mail for a fee. Better: Use Ebert's content as the base to create the world's best movie website. Aggregate reviews, Hollywood news, and unique original content (perhaps delivered by a small stable of the best movie minds in the country) and go to town. Localize theater times. List the day's movies on TV with witty capsules. Be the Pitchfork (or Deadspin) of film.

This is the way to produce revenue that subsidizes news reporting, not attempting to commoditize the news.


I've got a lot more where that comes from, but all anyone seems to be interested in is citizen journalism, tech gimmickry, hyperlocal nonsense . . . anything but content and journalism.

And don't get me started about the CNC. Gawd.


See also: Cheap Trick Undermines Sun-Times, Daily Herald Paywalls, which suggests simply copying and pasting the article you want to read before the paywall's roadblock slowly loads.

I've got news for you: You can pretty much breeze through the Sun-Times's stories quickly without having to do that if you're on your game.

"Federal authorities investigating the collapse of MF Global have uncovered e-mails that detail the transfers of money in the firm's last days, including transfers that contained customer money, according to people close to the investigation," the New York Times reports.

"One e-mail chain refers to the transfer of roughly $200 million that MF Global owed JPMorgan Chase on Oct. 28 - the firm's last business day before it filed for bankruptcy. In that chain, a senior official in the firm's Chicago office was told to make the transfer, said the people close to the investigation who requested anonymity because the inquiry was still open.

"That official, Edith O'Brien, a treasurer at MF Global, is considered a 'person of interest' in the investigation, said two of the people, who added that authorities expected to interview her in the coming days. It was not clear who had directed Ms. O'Brien, whose job was to oversee the customer money, to make the Oct. 28 transfer. The roughly $200 million that JPMorgan Chase received is said to be entirely customer money."

Ryan's Hope
"Insurance brokerage firm Aon Corp. will pay $16.2 million to settle criminal and civil charges that it paid bribes to foreign government officials over more than two decades, the U.S. government said on Tuesday," Reuters reports.

"The government alleged that Aon subsidiaries made more than $3.6 million in improper payments to officials all over the world, from Vietnam and Costa Rica to Egypt and the United Arab Emirates."

And Pat Ryan still couldn't get us the Olympics!

"The charges are not based 'on an isolated instance of misconduct,' Kara Brockmeyer, head of the SEC's enforcement unit specializing in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act probes, said in a statement."

In other words, Aon, which admits no wrongdoing aside from the admission the settlement implies, had a culture of corruption emanating from the top. No wonder Ryan was a Daley favorite.

Crime Wave
"Bank of Montreal's BMO Harris Bank agreed to pay $9.4 million to settle a lawsuit that accused the Chicago lender of illegally charging excessive overdraft fees, according to court papers," Bloomberg News reports.

Hence the term banksters.

One Of The Worst Chicagoans Ever
Billionaire Sam Zell Sues Shareholders Over Tribune Buyout He Engineered.

Lizard Loss
"According to a whistleblower, two bearded dragons languished in the back room of a Chicago-area PetSmart store for six months, apparently suffering from improperly treated eye infections that spread to their jaws and caused their faces to rot away," PETA charges.

Maybe the dragons were named Pat Ryan and Sam Zell.

Cloak and Daggers
"The Transportation Security Administration says officers found two throwing daggers hidden in a hollowed-out book at a checkpoint at Reagan-Washington National Airport," AP reports.

"A TSA spokesman says a passenger was stopped Monday when officers found the knives in the person's carry-on bag. The daggers measured just over a half-foot long and were hidden in the hard-cover book.

"The passenger was flying to Chicago and surrendered the knives and book."

The book was titled Revenge and the passenger was:

A) Ozzie Guillen
B) Rex Grossman
C) Rod Blagojevich


Yeah, I couldn't quite find the punchline there.

Park Place
This Chicago Park Will Be Almost 10 Times As Big As Manhattan.

Well, it has to be that big if it's going to house monuments to all of Richard M. Daley's overbudget, overdue projects. Isn't that what Millennium Reserve refers too?


Yeah, punchline not so great there, either. I was thinking of going with something involving parking meters but that didn't quite come together. But wouldn't it be great to see a giant parking meter replace Marilyn Monroe downtown, or better yet, a permanent installation somewhere as a tribute to Daley - like in that giant new park?

Council Follies
Hispanic Aldermen Propose Cutting City Council In Half.

Is this really necessary? I mean, the council is dead from the neck up already.


Yeah, that one doesn't quite work either. Playing with the "cutting in half" thing. Hey, I'm just trying to get to the end of the year.

I'll Have What She's Having
Skokie woman hallucinated home invasion.

Hester's Excuse
It had to be the shoes.

Global Citizen
"Hong Kong's tourism celebrated a new milestone on Wednesday as the city welcomed its first 40-millionth visitor for a single year," Xinhuanet reports.

"According to the Tourism Board, the 40-millionth visitor was an American tourist Nancy Ryan from Chicago. She, together with three family members, arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport Tuesday night, making her first visit to the city."

Cobain's Guitar Is Here
On West Hubbard.

No Place On The News!
Fox Chicago Anchor Forced To Apologize For Telling The Truth.

Rahm Not GR8
Mayor Grinch Needs Therapy.

The NBA's Sleeping Giants
In Fantasy Fix.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Slouching.


Posted on December 21, 2011

MUSIC - Spring Awakening Wake-Up Call!
TV - Exclusive! Rahm's New TV Gig.
POLITICS - The Political Odds.
SPORTS - NHL: CTE Not Our Fault.

BOOKS - Gov. Ed Coles.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Exclusive! Why Chicago Lost HQ2.

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