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The [Wednesday] Papers

1. Breaking news on Orange Line investigation: Drivers using wrong map.

2. Better than an E-ticket.

3. Daley's Rumsfeld. Except he'll be fired before the election.

4. Kass investigates the Ice Bar's ownership and liquor license. Guess what?

5. When the Daley camp wants to get a message out, they just whisper in Fran Spielman's ear and voila! And they get to remain anonymous because, you know, this is dangerous whistleblower stuff. Let's play Guess the Source/s:

A) Bill Daley
B) David Axelrod
C) Jackie Heard

6. Was the source's statement read to Spielman, or just faxed over to her, because it was certainly written in advance. Or very well-rehearsed.

7. "Sources said the mayor's decision to embrace Obama was made before his brother reserved a seat on the senator's bandwagon." Make sure you get that in, Fran. It's very important. No one should think there was any connection.

8. Then again, it's probably true. The mayor made his decision, then sent his brother to Obama.

9. Have a Billy Idol Christmas. (Thanks to Scott Buckner)

10. This Is Our Country. And don't ever forget it.

11. This is too: A young man in Georgia is serving 10 years without parole for "having consensual oral sex" with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17. In America.

If anything is worth a presidential pardon, it's this.

12. "On Tuesday, Daley branded calorie counts yet another subject unworthy of the City Council's time," the Sun-Times reports. "We're on tangents," Daley said. "How about being concerned about whether or not a child is getting a good quality education in the public school [or] whether young kids graduating from high school are going to get a job, go on to technical, vocational training or go on to college. That's what I'm concerned about. We're on tangents. When you get on tangents and you're worried about the goose all the time - how bout worrying about people?"

The mayor then told council members they shouldn't interpret his remarks to mean they have a say in the city's education policy or job development programs, and that they shouldn't go thinking up issues on their own to discuss without his say-so.

13. Catherine Rampell, your application for the Cook County Democratic Party has been accepted.

14. The cameras are gone. Now let's find out how the rest of that $52 million grant from the Homeland Security department was spent.

15.Durbin (and Obama) loud on torture overseas, silent on torture in Chicago.

16. Spotted in a Tribune report by a faithful reader: "[Bill Beavers] said the mayor's administration would help his daughter defeat Sandi Jackson by providing services to the ward during the campaign."

A) Gee, Sandi Jackson should run every year.
B) Sandi Jackson: Delivering Better Services Already.
C) And then deny doing so after the election.

17. The Tribune's Frank James thinks its good politics to let people dies of AIDS. And he approves.

18. "What Went Wrong" asks the American Journalism Review on the cover of its December/January issue. The accompanying story is about Tribune Company.

Among the highlights from reporter Rachel Smolkin:

* "Contacted for comment on this article at his law offices in Los Angeles, [board director William] Stinehart said, 'I don't speak to the press' and hung up."

* "Tribune denied my requests for interviews with the company's current leaders. In an October 17 e-mail, Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman cited various factors for turning down the requests, including 'disclosure problems, strategic review underway, quite period with earnings on Thursday, and scheduling issues.' Instead, Weitman later offered a short statement, which did not answer the questions I had posed."

How rich is that?

At any rate, Smolkin's piece makes clear that Tribune Co. did not understand the markets it was entering - both in Los Angeles and particularly Long Island, home of Newsday, nor understood that advertisers didn't want the "national footprint" that the company's strategy depended on.

Synergy, also, has been a failure - as it has throughout the business world. In fact, the only place where Tribune has had a modicum of synergistic success has been right here in Chicago - under cross-media ownership arrangements that are illegal and exist here only because they were grandfathered in.

The company also badly stumbled in trying to pool resources from among its new newspaper properties - an editorial failure showing an appalling lack of commitment to journalistic independence and the value of having more reporters on the beat, not fewer.

Former Tribune managing editor Jim O'Shea, dispatched recently to edit the Los Angeles Times the Chicago way, told Smolkin that "journalistc synergy freed his reporters at the Chicago Tribune from writing some routine process stories."

Why were his reporters writing routine process stories in the first place? That's what the wires are for. The company has a vast array of national and foreign correspondents at its disposal and still hasn't figured out how to use them. It's almost as if Andy MacPhail, Jim Hendry, and Dusty Baker were running hte news division.

Finally, editorial staff at the Los Angeles Times has fallen from 1,200 to 940 under Tribune ownership. You can't cut your way to growth. A more innovative company would have redeployed those resources onto new beats, special sections, quality enhancement initiatives, more investigations, Internet dominance, and revenue-generating ideas that could have grown readership. Remember - those cuts weren't made to balance a budget. The Times's profit margins - as well as the company's - are considerable. Talk about a failure of imagination.

19. I think I like the one about Tamron Hall the best.

20. Barista!

The Beachwood Tip Line: Synergy at its best.


Posted on December 20, 2006

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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