Carefree days at the dailies | Bleader

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Carefree days at the dailies

Posted By on 03.20.08 at 03:48 PM

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Today was a great day to be young and a journalist in Chicago. (When's the last time anyone said that?)

The Sun-Times carried a big story announcing the winner of its "Zell No" video contest: 22-year-old Katie Hamilton of Glen Ellyn with "We're Not Gonna Change It," a rip on Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It." Then the Tribune gleefully revealed that Hamilton is a Tribune editorial board intern and the $1,000 prize is going to Chicago Tribune Charities. And then the Sun-Times conceded it had been "punk'd" in an updated story under the headline "The Tribune has a sense of humor: Who knew?"

The upshot: Zell's scheme to sell naming rights at Wrigley Field gets him booted around not just by the competition but by the Tribune staff too. The winning video shows up on the Web sites of both papers. Highlights: some guy in a Zell mask prancing around, the real Zell getting bleeped.  

The Sun-Times site now gallantly offers not just the Tribune's champion "Zell No" video but another that the paper concocted to revel in its coup, plus two runners-up and 20 other entries. Elaborate production values put the winner head and shoulders above the others, but all the ones I took time to look at have their moments. 

Excellent lyric from the winners:

It's where we do our boozin'
Where our team does its losin'
Now some rich dude, he wants a change. 
He'll name it after Old Style       
Or drugs for ills erectile     
Viagra Field sounds pretty strange.   

Even better lyric, from runner-up Joe Conick, 71, of Chicago. . . 

I see in you the epitome of selfish,
That face gives a hint of week-old shellfish.

Hamilton was fronting for some major Tribune talent. Bill Adee, the Trib's associate managing editor for innovation, says he, Tempo editor Tim Bannon, and feature writer Kevin Pang had already been kicking around the idea of doing "viral video projects--and kind of humorous ones." The last time they talked, there on the table was a copy of the Sun-Times calling for "Zell No" entries. A light bulb went on. Pang headed up the project, lyrics were a group effort. Because the Sun-Times was putting up videos as they came in, the Tribune forces had a good idea where the bar was set. Would you have kept the secret if you'd lost? I asked Adee. "Probably," he said.

"We're fortunate to still be in a two-newspaper town," Adee told me. "It's old-time newspaper fun, in kind of a new-media age."

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