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The Beachwood Radio Hour #63B: My Journey Through America's Dumbest Newsrooms

Not really the dumbest, but sadly typical. Subhed: Inside The Media's Mediocre Mindset. Plus: Making The Milwaukee-Medill Mural.


* Strawberry Rock Show.

1:59: The Milwaukee-Medill Community Mural.

* Mural prep!

* Mural painting!

* Flash in action!

* FlicksOnFlash.


9:38: Freddie Gibbs at Pitchfork.

12:31: How The Media Thinks. (Quality Is Not Job 1)



* The Intercept: A Crucial Realization About Journalism Is Learned By Being Its Subject.

* Jayson Blair.

* Travelers Find Holiday Is No Sweat.

* Flint Taylor says this WBEZ reporter spent 20 minutes trying to get him to repeat her pre-set narrative that the Guardian's Homan Square expose 'mischaracterized' the activities going on there, which he denied because he didn't have the requisite knowledge to pass judgement. Then, Taylor says, she attributed to him only the closest, most grudging thing he said that could fit that narrative. Additionally, Taylor says, Craig Futterman, who came under a lot of fire from the civil liberties community for his comments, told him he was misquoted.

* Air Show Goes Off Into Wild Blue Yonder.

* ("Severe clear" was the term.)

* Attack On U.S. Skating Star Felt Even By Amateurs On Ice.

* City's Safest Police District Isn't That Way By Accident.

* Smoker Backlash? It May All Be Puffery.

* I believe the editor actually said "We only need one." Because that would be the anecdote to the lead the story. You see, in a newsroom, an anecdote isn't an example that illustrates a larger trend, but the most extreme outlier that . . . represents a larger (non-) trend.

* How Slate's Jack Shafer Calls Out Bogus Trend Stories.

45:05: Murder By Death at Millennium Park last Monday night.

* Downtown Sound Proves Millennium Park Can Rock.

* The Press.

"Caustic, informed - often hilarious - this survey of the omissions, distortions and downright fiction in our newspapers may well be the best book written about the American press."

* Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.

* The Boys on the Bus.

What's the lead, Walter?

One of Crouse's key observations was that few people on that bus dared go off the reservation and report stories no one else was reporting for fear that their editors squawk.

* On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency.

"Based on more than 175 interviews with most of the key figures in the White House and the press, the book exposes one of the great scandals of 20th century American politics - how the press, both through government manipulation and voluntary self-censorship, abdicated its responsibility to report on what was really going on during Reagan's eight years as president. Indeed, as author Mark Hertsgaard reveals, there were many instances of network and press executives at CBS, The New York Times, ABC and elsewhere, stifling their own reporters' coverage of such stories as Reaganomics, the invasion of Grenada and the Iran-Contra Affair."

* Who Will Tell The People: The Betrayal Of American Democracy.

* Not mentioned, but a crucial must-read: Read All About It!

"A look at how the owners of American newspapers have sacrificed journalistic ideals for profit shows how journalism has become the province of large corporations that care more about private profit than about public debate."

That's a pretty antiseptic description. It's more like A searing insider tell-all about how the corporatization of newspapers perverted their mission, as seen through the activities of the Tribune Company.

To wit:

"By reducing circulation efforts among low-income, minority readers, newspapers actually improve the overall demographic profile of their audiences, which they then use to justify raising advertising rates," wrote James Squires in his 1993 book, Read All About It! The Corporate Takeover Of America's Newspapers. Squires was editor of the Tribune for eight-and-a-half years."

* Confidence Men.

* They both reached for the gun.

* Justice For John Conroy.

* End of the Nightstick.

* The Tribune's Ken Parish Perkins wrote about it a year after I pitched it.

* Heat Wave.

"Elizabeth Taylor, who edits the Tribune's book review, once told me she just didn't think the book was that big of a deal."

* Royko: Killer Heat Wave Or Media Event?

My guess is that when someone does an in-depth study of all deaths during earlier heat waves, it will be found that many more people of all ages died of heart attacks, strokes and assorted seizures.


* Rokyo on Burge: Facts Don't Add Up To Police Brutality.

I don't doubt that someone abused Andrew Wilson after he was arrested. But we don't know who did it, and we'll never know. It could have been the three facing dismissal. It could have been others.

Since the city doesn't know, it should let it go.

As for those sign-waving protesters who are seeking the hides of the three cops, one two-part question: Have you ever had any firsthand experience with them, and did they ever torture you?

If not, get a life.


* Scroll to A Small Step For Chicago.

* The ebonics story I reported on for Newsweek is not online.

* The Case Against Daley.

Another point I forgot to make: One time at Chicago the magazine industry's "cover" guru spoke at an event we all went to. This guy's specialty was telling editors what words, phrases and topics sold best off the newsstand. He kept a database of such things pertaining to nearly all the nation's city magazines. He pointed out, as if we hadn't already been told a million times, that "political" covers didn't sell. For that matter, "newsy" covers didn't sell. I would never argue that point, I said, when I asked a question, but on his chart the example I saw of a political cover was a profile of Laura Bush, for Texas Monthly or something like that. I suggested that that wasn't a political cover, and that instead a cover story with the line "How The Mayor Is Stealing From You" would probably do pretty well. In the ensuing conversation, I pretty much leveled the guy and his "data." In the ensuing months, though, whenever the discussion within Chicago turned to covers, it was as if the exchange had never taken place. And for the remaining years of my time at the magazine, the cover guru's wisdom was frequently cited. The brainwashing goes deep, my friends. It's not just about crazies denying climate change; the person next to you is in deep denial about some pretty basic things. Maybe you are too.

(I also never got a good answer - then or from my bosses - for why we should have been slaves to newsstand sales when they were about a fifth of our subscriber base.)

* Chicago later did a big story on how "The Speech" came to be; I never would have done that story, obvs.

* "Press Box" not online, but I've got the files so I hope to get them up one day. Here's one example, though, from the Wayback Machine.

* See also "Deserted Press Box."

At the time, I said to my editor, Hey, I could do this every day. The seeds were sown.

* Obamathon.

My favorite: It's mighty nice of the Chicago media to give Barack Obama a largely clean bill of health on his relationship with Tony Rezko now that he's held strategic meetings with editorial boards of the Tribune and Sun-Times, but as near as I can tell, every media outlet in the city missed the story. Let's try it this way:

"Barack Obama acknowledged in meetings with the city's two editorial boards that he had not been truthful in describing his knowledge of Tony Rezko's legal problems when he became entangled in a real estate deal with the political fixer involving Obama's South Side mansion."

Let's take a look at what we really learned over the weekend.

If I ever write the book about Obama I've been thinking about, the opening scene will these visits to the city's editorial boards.

* When The Tribune Got NBC Chicago To Take Down A Totally True And Prescient Post About Their CEO.

* The Tribune Also Had The Post Removed From Google, So I Reposted It Here.

No one ever reported on this.

* Media Management Center/Readership Institute, Etc.

* I created my own graduate degree in media management at Northwestern; I was asked about it when one my mentors helped Kellogg create this.

* I also earned a graduate certificate in Telecommunications Science, Policy and Management (the online world was still called "telecommunications" back then).

* I also worked on several Knight-Ridder projects (and even did a consulting project for the Tribune Co.)

* The point is this: I'm not just making shit up out of my head. I've done my homework.

* That's exactly how it happened!

* I forgot to re-tell this story: The [Rosty] Papers.

I quickly figured out that I was probably the only one in the room who had read America: What Went Wrong by two of my reporting heroes, Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele.

1:20:58: Kitten Forever at the Double Door (No. 3) on Tuesday night.

* What The MSM Could Learn From Gawker.

* Deadspin: Sports News without Access, Favor, or Discretion.

* Nobody's job is to lie.

* The (undergraduate) journalism education I received was reform-minded. I learned how sucky the industry was ahead of time - a running joke was that the faculty was trying to talk us out of going into the profession. But the reality was that they wanted us to fix the profession.

* Every journalist should be required to be a member.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #60: Don't Blame Garry McCarthy For Rahm Emanuel's Crime-Causing Policies.

Published since 1900, the [ Minnesota Daily ] is currently the largest student-run and student-written newspaper in the United States.

* You reap the sources you sow.

* Edward Snowden did not trust the New York Times.

* Homan Square in real-time.

* Is the subject of this podcast my book? Is the real Obama as I wrote from the start my book? Is the Beachwood Inn my book?

* The [Olympics Tax] Papers.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #2: Crime Is Down.

How Chicago got its vaunted story about homicide stats wrong.

* The false claim about New York City's mandatory minimums that the media continues to trumpet.

* Blago Ruling Indicts Media.

* Correcting Greg Hinz (D-Rahm) On TIFs.

Hinz has publicly endorsed Rahm, and you can tell.

* Greg Hinz, For One, Would Like To Welcome Our New Overlord.

* As former Tribune reporter/editor Maury Possley once told me, looking out across the newsroom, a lot of people here think they have 10 years of experience when they really have 10 years of one year of experience.

1:55:36: The Bank Notes at Reggies a week ago Sunday.

1:56:30: Dumpster Babies at the Double Door (No. 3) on Tuesday night.

1:56:46: Mr. Twin Sister at Lincoln Hall a week ago Saturday night.

STOPPAGE: 58:40.


For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.


Comments welcome.


Posted on July 27, 2015

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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