Who Says Bloggers Can't Be Reporters?
Re: "Old Hands, New Cred: The veterans blogging at Vocalo are making WBEZ's sib a serious read," by Michael Miner, June 3
Noting that Vocalo now has a higher grade of blogger is like saying an Oldsmobile has slightly shinier chrome. What we could use more of is actual journalism, reporters spending a lot of time on the ground, at the scene, talking face-to-face to sources, digging and researching taking the time they need, directed and backed up by a team of editors with sharp eyes, critical minds, deep knowledge of the subject at hand and world at large. (The Trib still does some of this locally, so you have to give credit for that—although it sometimes looks more like a tic than a commitment.) The time and effort a real reporter spends tapping out a story at the end of the day should be about 5 percent or less of what goes into the final product. For a typical blogger—come on now, 'fess up—it's probably about 95 percent.
I'll side with those at WBEZ who thought the station should've snatched up some of the dozens of first-rate journos dumped by the Trib and S-T over the past few years. Given the kind of resources, teamwork and time possible in a more conventional journalistic setting, 'BEZ could indeed have emerged as the city's leading news org. Of course, that isn't necessarily saying much in this oddly lame and incurious news market, but it's something.
Instead, we get more bloggers. Which I suppose is valuable, given the great global blog shortage we're hobbling through right now.
What better time to make the long overdue senior management changes that will bring in leadership whose vision and competence matches that of people like Justin Kaufmann, Steve Edwards, and the many others doing fine work on a daily basis.
This urge to reinvent the universe is typical of management for whom online communication, for some reason, is still something new and exotic. Time Warner famously made exactly the same mistake with Pathfinder—only they did it in the mid-90s.
Lost Amid the Potholes
Re: "Pissed Off: When Paul Radoy complained to Mayor Daley of crumbling infrastructure in North Lawndale, the mayor took the opportunity to hit the men's room. Nine months later, little has changed in the neighborhood," by Max Brooks, June 3
Funny how the Reader never mentions the gang problems that plague these neighborhoods like North Lawndale. Now some white yuppie moves in claiming civil rights [note: Radoy has lived in North Lawndale for nearly a decade] and wants everything to change. Comparing Lawndale to Lincoln Park is pretty stupid. We're talking homes in the million-dollar-plus price tag with property taxes around $20,000, plus tons of business that are frequented by consumers from all over the city, and those abroad. That's a lot of tax revenue compared to North Lawndale. Maybe you guys should figure out how to tax the drug dealers and the gangs down there to get your revenue up? This article is weak.
Whether one's house costs $100 thousand or $1 million, the streets outside of it should be paved and maintained, and devoid of three-foot-deep sinkholes. Residents in every neighborhood of the city have a right to the same level of city services regardless of their income or the value of their property, or whether they're homeowners or renters.
Making infrastructure improvements like street repair part of each alderman's "menu" for discretionary spending is ridiculous; street repair, like police deployment, is a public safety issue and distribution of resources should be based on need, not political district boundaries. "Equal" is not the same as "equitable." If the aldermen in the neighborhoods with greater needs won't demand a change in the way funds are allocated, their residents need to demand the change.
Perhaps the answer is legal action, like the successful lawsuit some years ago which forced the Park District to reprioritize land acquisition and capital improvements to benefit long-neglected neighborhoods.
I commend you on your calm, persistent manner in the budget hearing in the face of Daley's disdainful, rude behavior. I doubt many people would have kept their composure as you did. The level of class and intelligence possessed by you and Daley was on full display in that hearing. Keep at it and maybe the Daley administration will be forced to start caring about areas the tourists do not visit.
The TIF Shell Game
Re: "Learning to Say No: Mayor Daley's (mis)use of tax increment financing to pay for school construction inspires a minirevolt in City Council," by Ben Joravsky, June 3
Another excellent article; thanks Ben for continuing to educate the public about the TIF shell game. In this article is a great, and simply explained, example of the con, which everyone should memorize and repeat to everyone you know who doesn't understand why TIFs are a bad thing for Chicago: $600 million of TIF funds will be spent on school infrastructure improvements, but more than twice that amount—$1.5 BILLION—of school revenue will be lost to TIFs.
Our mayor may be too dull to comprehend this, but most people could do the math and figure it out.
Kudos to all for Mike Miner's interview of me in the March 11, 2010 issue (p. 6, 7; "The Face of Hyde Park"). The ACCURACY and PRESENTATION was stellar. It was a superb example of what good journalism is all about.