The Tribune Got the Ash Story Backwards

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The eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano last last week shut down air traffic into and out of, and all across northern Europe. "Chicago cut off from the continent," I thought — a strange predicament for our global city. Who was trapped here and couldn't get home? Who was there and desperately needed to be here? What business couldn't be conducted? What concerts would have to be canceled? Would an unheralded conductor get the chance of a lifetime to lead the CSO because a famous maestro was stuck in Berlin?

It was a big story without a doubt, with all sorts of sidebars for a creative news desk to pursue. And the story endured. USA Today reported Sunday night that "more than 63,000 flights had been canceled in 23 European countries, stifling the lifeblood of the continent's economy." Presumably counted among those flights were the ones that would have taken President Obama and other world leaders to the funeral of the late president Lech Kaczynski of Poland in Warsaw.

The eruption was the lead story in Thursday's New York Times. The Tribune ran an eight-paragraph story on page 18. It was datelined London. (The link is to a longer version of the story that was posted online.) There was no local coverage. And in days to come the Tribune never caught on or caught up. Very strange.

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