Kern, Gerould W.
Sent: Fri Oct 08 11:30:24 2010
Subject: Real courage
Today’s Chicago Tribune is yet another reminder of why I am so proud to be part of this newsroom, to be working with you.
Sam Roe’s and Jared Hopkins’ heart-breaking story about death of 9-year-old Jeremiah Clark exposes how our system failed to care for the most vulnerable among us. This is not an isolated story. Nearly every day we present reports to our readers that fulfill our promise to stand up for the community.
It’s not just investigative stories like today’s that make this statement. Every department, every section, every column, photo and editorial make the case that we are dedicated to public service in a diversity of forms. Others in the industry are recognizing innovation at the Chicago Tribune, as this link demonstrates. http://ronreason.com/designwithreason/2010/10/06/innovation-in-u-s-papers-where-is-it-how-to-define-it/
Given the events of this week, it is important to pause and remember that the words on our pages and websites speak loudest about who we are and what we value.
I’ve talked to a number of you over the week about the New York Times article that negatively characterized the culture and values of our company. Consequently, I believe it is important to reinforce the values of our newsroom and the Chicago Tribune Media Group.
Some of you have received inquiries from friends and family around the country, asking if you are safe and treated well. I am very sorry that this has been called into question. It is painful to hear that you’ve had to answer those questions. The Chicago Tribune and our newsroom always have operated with the highest professional, ethical and moral standards. Everyone who truly knows us understands this to be true.
We have established a set of principles and an environment that supports courageous journalism, and this is driving real reform in our city and state. Together we have worked diligently to establish a newsroom that is built on mutual respect, individual responsibility, openness and collegiality. We’ve done this during a time of trial for our company, our industry and our nation.
As many of you know, I read history. My “advisors” sit on a bookshelf behind my desk. I invite you to come by my office sometime and chat about some of these books and the stories they tell. For me, the greatest revelations are the choices that people make in their personal moments of truth. That is the place where history is made. These choices reveal everything about a person’s character, values, about their courage to face adversity and stay true to their beliefs. History celebrates those who are principled, those who are selfless, people who defend their families, friends and homelands, people who put themselves and their careers at risk for larger ideas than themselves.
In the 163-year history of the Chicago Tribune, no group has confronted more disruption and more uncertainty than you. No group has demonstrated more innovative spirit and driven more transformative change than this one. No one has worked harder to keep journalism alive despite the economic assaults upon it. It is easy to profess your convictions when things are going well. It is quite another to hold onto those convictions and to push ahead when times are difficult.
Faced with the most crucial moment of our careers and the most perilous moment in the Chicago Tribune’s history, we did not retreat. Instead, we stood and fought to create a brighter future for the Chicago Tribune. That is real courage.
History will be the judge of us all, as it is for all men and women. No matter where we go or what we do the rest of our lives, we can look back at this time with pride and the satisfaction that we carried the mission forward despite the challenges and that we stood by each other.
I am honored to be your colleague. I believe that our best days are still ahead.