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The [Wednesday] Papers

The Sun-Times's cover story today is "The 300,000,000th American Is Born: HERE SHE IS!" with a photo of a baby born in Chicago.

Problem is, there is absolutely no evidence the baby is the 300 millionth American. The paper just made it up.

Compare this approach to how New York magazine handled the story. Newspapers are supposed to cut through the hype and deliver some truth, insight, or at least mere facts. The Sun-Times is too often on the wrong side of the divide, functioning as its own PR machine, and in a consistently embarrasing manner.

300 Million Approaches
Here's a smattering of how other news outlets, public relations agencies, corporations, and political organizations spun the story.

* The right-wing NewsMax proclaims "Taxing Life Ahead for 300 Millionth American."

* The National Center for Policy Analysis, whose goal is "to develop private alternatives to government regulation and control," asks "What's In Store For the 300 Millionth American?" The answer: An unacceptable tax and Social Security burden. The NCPA cites itself as the source of its data.

* Pampers offers the baby's family a lifetime supply of Pampers diapers and wipes. How they will determine the winner is . . . undetermined.

* The Huffington Post argues, I think, that the future is not a linear derivation of the past.

* The Christian Science Monitor asked "Is A Bigger Nation Richer?" as it kicked off a five-part series last month in anticipation of the milestone.

* Xinhua, the Chinese news agency, played it straight. (More interesting was this "China Publishes Resolution on Building Harmonious Society.")

* "One thing the next 300 million babies will not have in common with the first 300 million . . . they'll be better sleepers," says Kay Willis, an RN, parenting educator and lactation consultant at The Nesting Place in Grapevine, Texas as she picks up what she says is her hottest selling swaddling innovation, the Miracle Blanket®.

* EarthTimes says "America had reached 100 million citizens in 1915 and 200 million on November 20, 1967. The first landmark had been heralded as the coming of age of a nation and the second as the stamp of authority of a mighty nation. In tune to that there had been celebrations in 1967 with even the then President Lyndon Johnson being part of it. The 200 millionth baby, Robert Ken Woo Jr., had had his share of five minutes of fame.

"But this time around the reactions to another milestone are mixed. Some still see it as a reason to celebrate; others feel some retrospection and action is needed about this increase in rate of population growth. Considering that it took 139 years for the first million, 52 years for the second and only 39 years for the third the concern seems justified."

* The Bangkok Post via a German Press Agency story says "Few economists doubt that the US economy is reliant on a reservoir of labour to fill low-paid, low status jobs."

* The Los Angeles Times turned out the best story I've seen, reporting that Gerbers asked the U.S. Census Bureau for guidance on who the 300 millionth American would be but got none; that a Brookings Institution demographer predicted the 300 millionth American would be a Latino boy born in Los Angeles County; that a demographer for the nonprofit Population Reference Bureau in Washington says the child could just as well be born to a white woman in a Midwest suburb; and that there's a two-in-five chance that it won't be a baby at all but an immigrant, either arriving legally at an airport or illegally crossing the Arizona desert.

Sweet and Sour Lou
Lou Piniella was named as the Cubs 300 millionth manager on Tuesday. We think it's a sign that the Cubs haven't learned a damn thing; if they had they would've hired Joe Girardi. In The [Piniella] Papers.

300 Millionth Kinky Contract
Rich Daley's rich friends get richer. (In the print version, this story is opposite ComEd's 300 millionth ad defending its upcoming rate increase.)

$300 Millionth Overspent Dollar and Counting
The Sun-Times editorial board thinks Millennium Park was a project that "worked out pretty well, don't you think?" Four years late, $350 million overbudget, and a $17 million reserve fund being used to pay off more than $200 million in parking garage bonds that is almost out of money because the garages are not generating enough revenue to pay for the park's ongoing operations as envisioned, necessitating a proposal to privatize the garages, likely resulting in price increases . . . why, yes, it's going quite swimmingly! But wow, look at that cool Olympic logo.

300 Millionth Worthless Op-Ed
Ed Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation, predicts that if we pull our troops out of Iraq, oil prices will reach $210 a barrel by 2009. I was on a panel about the future of media last night that talked a lot about the credibility of bloggers, and as I said then, compared to who?

Carol Marin puts Todd Stroger on the couch. This is a guy who should really be a private citizen leading a quiet life selling insurance.

Trib Touts Tammy
The Tribune - surprisingly, to me - endorsed Tammy Duckworth in the 6th congressional district race this morning. The paper also endorsed Rep. Dan Lipinski's re-election bid despite being put in place in a maneuver every bit as despicable as that which gave Todd Stroger the Democratic nomination for Cook County board president - if not worse. The Tribune has endorsed every incumbent for the U.S. House thus far, and will likely endorse an overwhleming number of incumbents for all offices, despite contantly badgering citizens to register their disgust with politics-as-usual at the ballot box.

Team Jackson
Jesse Jackson Jr. says he is close to selecting running mates for city treasurer and clerk who are "substantial and significant people" to join him on a mayoral ticket. Too bad Miguel del Valle didn't sign up with Jackson instead of the mayor.

Bears Bandwagon
John Kass on those Bears tailgaters the TV news crews like to stereotype so much: "The guy working the grill is from the suburbs, not the city. He's at the game because his brother-in-law works for a corporation that uses tax loopholes to write off season tickets and $10,000 personal-seat licenses, so the suits can visit Soldier Field."

Say It Isn't So
Lou Piniella has never heard of the Billy Goat and called the White Sox the North Siders. Oy.

Stone's Throw
Steve Stone said on The Score last night that the fact that a second-rate Cardinals team has gotten this far and that the National League is so atrocious right now shows that the Cubs can turn things around and compete quickly. But the National League is atrocious and yet, the Cubs finished with the worst record in the league! That's how bad they are! This is still an organization without direction; the hiring of Lou Piniella does nothing to alter the culture or philosophy of this franchise. They will try to patch together a competitive team to placate fans - just as they have for years on end, instead of actually building a franchise.

Reader Mail
A loyal Beachwood reader whose position in the political firmament demands that he remain anonymous writes in with these observations.

- "The sad thing is that the reality of Illinois politics is becoming more outlandish then the fiction of a cartoon. I might write in Nelson Muntz for Governor just so he can say 'Ha Ha!' as the coming indictments are unveiled."

- Regarding the Tribune's endorsement of John Daley as a potential super reformer of the Cook County Board: "Maybe they should have hired John Daley to manage the Cubs given the immense skill set he can unleash at any moment despite not doing so for decades."

- "Lou Pinella could be the President of the Cook County Board. If he got mad at a fellow commissioner he could pick up their microphone and toss it a la bases and kick dirt on them a la umpires. Nose to nose arguments with Bill Beavers. Every time he gets a new controversial ordinance passed the spectators could cheer LLLOOOOOUUUUU! which would sound like booing even though it wouldn't be. The kicker, he would wear a baseball uniform to all meetings and never acknowledge how silly it looks."

The Beachwood Tip Line: Bring me the head of Hendry.


Posted on October 18, 2006

MUSIC - December In Chicago Drill.
TV - Don't Weaken Media Ownership Limits.
POLITICS - Another SRO Crisis.
SPORTS - TrackNotes: Mom.

BOOKS - How Stereo Was Sold To A Skeptical Public.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicago Footwork King's Bail Battle.

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