I'm feeling a little silly. I wrote a hard-hitting column last month chiding a new Tribune on-line venture called Triblocal.com for its tireless coverage of Mark Pera's campaign for Congress. The reporter, "citizen contributor" Patrick Corcoran, turned out to be Pera's news flack. I then got an e-mail pointing out what I'd missed: if I'd stuck my nose in a little deeper I'd have found out that a bona fide Triblocal.com reporter, Kevin Botterman, is the brother of Pera's campaign manager, Patrick Botterman.
Well, it's true, which makes it all the more amazing that Triblocal.com didn't identify Corcoran a lot sooner. But managing editor Kyle Leonard says this: Pera was running against incumbent Dan Lipinski in the Third District, which covers the southwest side of Chicago and southwest suburbs, and Kevin Botterman was posted far away in Kane County, paid no attention to the coverage of the Pera campaign, and for a long time didn't even know his brother had anything to do with it. I believe him.
Anyway, today the Triblocal.com performance is politically a dead issue -- Lipinski rolled over Pera by better than a two-to-one margin. Journalistically it's probably just as dead -- the other day, Leonard, Kevin Botterman, and everyone else on the Triblocal.com "launch team" won the Tribune's coveted Publisher's Award honoring "major cross-departmental initiatives that delivered a significant positive impact on our business." Tribune spokesman Michael Dizon says this year's award reflects updated criteria: "It now honors teams whose efforts lead to major changes in the way we go to market and expand our customer base."
In his e-mail, Dizon names a second winner -- "the Sun-Times News Group Distribution team, largely from Circulation and Consumer marketing." Last October I wrote about subscribers' adventures as the Tribune took over home delivery of the Sun-Times and other Sun-Times Media Group papers. Consternation ruled. So this must be an award for muddling through.