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The Week in WTF

1. Tribune Company, WTF?

We here at WTF are enjoying the heck out of that giant, greasy slime ball that just landed on Tribune's doorstep.

Schadenfreude is such an underappreciated vice.

2. Tribune Clydesdales, WTF?

Of hundreds of former titled Tribunites, maybe dozens - or at least one or two - are swell folks who were dedicated, honest and smart. (How smart? Just ask them). But it does seem like many bigwigs have survived in exile to run new journalistic-related operations. Some show up on TV pretending to be experts. Others do PR for companies they used to smirk at. One big Trib hotdog now works as a college "vice president of civic engagement." WTF, really.

WTF's chief correspondent once worked for Conrad Black and David Radler, in addition to several others with even less human DNA, so we know how you can get trapped inadvertently with vermin.

But the way-too-many-titles-at-the-top-of-the-pyramid exiles created a Tribune just good enough to be Sam Zell roadkill (with the help of many suits), and they just won't go away. Ever, it seems. And what stories do they plan to tell now that are different from the ones they wouldn't cover before?

Take ex-newsroom Big Cheese Jim O'Shea, founder of a Tribune-in-exile outfit called the Chicago News Cooperative and suddenly an expert in innovative Internet journalism that he snubbed when he ran the Trib. O'Shea claims a five-year plan to wean his operation from freebie grants. We call it Baggie asphyxiation.

Or O'Shea sidekick James Warren, who always seems to have some title though you can never quite tell what his job is.

Most recently, he was a Chicago News Co-op columnist who ran the Reader in his spare time.

When that proved a bad fit, the Reader turned to disgruntled ex-Tribune reporter Geoff Dougherty (and believe WTF, the disgruntlement went both ways) to bring over the same magic that made the Chi-Town Daily News and Chicago Current such successes.

Let's just say Dougherty has created some uncomfortable waves on the "reliability scale." Good luck there, my alternative journo pals.

So what are we suggesting? Basically, if this is the best aging newsroom Clydesdales can manage in their "next life phase," just beat it. Scram. Get in a real game or cash out your chips. Go save the world from starvation. Go carry malaria medicine to Africa. Go teach a junior high English class. Adopt a handicapped kid. Maybe two. Go actually do something that matters. Let's see if you've got any real stuff in your marrow. What-THE-EF. Stop being so damned pathetic.

3. Fried eggs and ham, WTF?

Does anybody but us wonder if Jon Burge laments that he had to retire 20 years too early now that he could be using a Taser on everyone he encountered?

Yes, we now that Tasers don't normally kill the recipient, but they do deliver excruciating pain which, as we recall, was just the motivational tool that Burge preferred. Plus, isn't excruciating pain a punishment? If courts administered 50,000 volts for misdemeanors, someone would claim it was cruel and inhumane punishment. Which, of course, it is.

Anyway, Chicago police are frying suspects at an alarming rate. But they don't appear to be stopping anyone who Glocks the kid down the street. WTF.

4. Lake County State's Attorney, WTF?

Lake County finally freed Jerry Hobbs after five years in jail for a double murder and no trial.They did this because, well, he's clearly innocent and even Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller couldn't think of a defensible reason to ignore DNA. Waller said Wednesday that Hobbs' release shows "the system works." WTF?

What's going to work even more efficiently is a civil liability trial that earns Hobbs about $50 million. Just a guess. They'll have to pay that to avoid their own trial. Can you see the ironical circular twist to the universe?. Yeah, me too.

5. Sun-Times Sports, WTF

The Sun-Times's online sports operation, or as we used to call it, The Ringling Brothers Clown Car, has struck again.

Sure, rumors of payoffs to college athletes often turn out to be true. But merely posting the rumor even has sports bloggers (yikes) in a righteous uproar. And when sports bloggers question your cred, it's a WTF blow to pride.

As Jason Robards says in All the President's Men, get us some harder information next time.


David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, a Sun-Times Media property.


Comments welcome.


Previously in The Week in WTF:
* TWIWTF: Walter Jacobson, Mark Kirk, the Sun-Times
* TWIWTF: Conrad Murray, Jim Laski, Notre Dame Nation
* TWIWTF: Chris Zorich, Eddie and Jobo, Blago.
* TWIWTF: Burge, Zambrano, Tyree
* TWIWTF: Pundits, LeBron James, Lake County
* TWIWTF: Stroger, Transformers, Six Flags
* TWIWTF: Blago, Channel 2, Cubs
* TWIWTF: Blago, Tribune, Big Z


Also by David Rutter:
* The Lords of Ireland.

* Speaking of Notre Dame . . .

* Scheduling Notre Dame.

* Spade Robs Farley's Grave.

* Gov. Fester.

* Black Talks, Zell Walks.

* Roeper's Games.


* An excerpt from Rutter's Olga's War


Posted on August 6, 2010

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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