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Substance Abuse

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There's no reason to expect the Reader to write favorably about Ralph Nader's campaign, but I would think any political rally that draws a young, paying crowd of 10,000 deserves thoughtful coverage. Your readers certainly expect better than a smug writer-writes-about-herself-covering-an-event-instead-of-covering-the-event piece like Cara Jepsen's [October 20].

Jepsen makes fun of the reporter next to her who just wants "to know how long [her article] needs to be" but she herself shows up late and churns out a lazy, superficial "my night at the rally" story that reads like it was cribbed from her notebook in 15 minutes. She mocks the Tribune's depiction of the rally as "part pep rally, part talk show, part revival and part rave" but leads off her own story with an even more insipid, inaccurate comparison to a Grateful Dead concert.

Anyone who was at the rally (outside the press booth, that is) can confirm that it was nothing like a rave or a Dead show or a Pearl Jam concert, or anything else the papers have said. I guess 10,000 people listening attentively to hours of thoughtful speeches doesn't make for a punchy lead, though. Jepsen and the rest of the media scoff at the youthful audience as if it trivializes Nader's campaign when it ought to make it more newsworthy--aren't young people supposed to be cynical and apathetic? Doesn't this mean something big is happening? The crowd last Tuesday was serious, well-informed, and they weren't there for Eddie Vedder--hell, Studs Terkel was the guest who got a standing ovation when he took the stage. The crowd was there because Nader is the only candidate who supports universal health care, a living wage, and reducing military spending, among other things. These are issues that affect all of us, and I suspect much of your readership would like to know what Nader and the Green Party have to say on these and other issues. (They also might like to know that a lot is at stake here--if Nader gets 5 percent of the vote nationwide the Green Party gets federal funding for the next election, and that figure is well within his grasp.)

Jepsen, however, seems hell-bent on ignoring anything of substance. Her coverage of Nader's speech comes off like some sort of prank, consisting entirely of a list of over 30 subjects Nader discussed without mentioning what he had to say about a single one. (With a break to whine about how the press booth was too hot and the press pass was too itchy.) Early on she mentions that the Green Party has been annoying her with "sometimes hourly" E-mails--what, is this her revenge? For her conclusion, she all but admits that the whole article was a prank, noting that Green Party supporters have been disgusted by the media's coverage of Nader and bragging that they "probably won't like this article either."

No, they won't like your article. Congratulations. Nobody will like your article, and nobody will learn anything from it. Thanks for proving that the Reader can be even more vapid than the Tribune and the Sun-Times.

Mike Sturgess

W. Ellen

PS: In response to Dan Savage's moronic attack on Nader supporters [October 20] for pulling votes away from Gore (heavens, no!), Gore has an 8 percent lead in Illinois in the most recent Tribune/WGN poll. A percentage point or two more for Gore won't mean a damn thing, while a point for Nader may well give him the 5 percent the Green Party needs for ballot access next time around. Savage ought to know that the race isn't close in most states (particularly those where his readers live) and his attempt to blame Nader supporters for a potential Bush victory is childish, cynical, and absurdly illogical.

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