That Man From Rio | Bleader

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

That Man From Rio

Posted By on 09.29.09 at 01:04 AM

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Many a news story still originates with a curious reporter asking a good question. But more and more, it doesn't end with the reporter getting the answer.

For instance, who's behind the mysterious Web site Chicagoansforrio.com? Sinister Brazilian interests? A wisenheimer Chicagoan?

Reporter James Janega took up the question in Monday's Tribune. It not being one of life's enduring mysteries — like whatever happened to Amelia Earhart? — readers such as myself began Janega's story expecting to know the truth by the time we were done with it. But no. Janega told us his search of Internet records came up dry. He emailed the site to find out but a flippant reply blew him off. So damned if he had any idea yet.

And that was his story. In another era an astonished editor would have thrown it back at Janega and reminded him, "Readers expect you to find out."

But these days not so much. Reporters are paid to bond with readers, not necessarily to inform them. Simply tell those millions of unpaid irregulars what you don't know, and you can be sure that in a matter of minutes they'll happily fill you in.

Sure enough, at 12:09 PM Monday Janega reported on the Tribune's chicagobreakingnews.com site that Kevin Lynch, a Chicago advertising copywriter, "was the creative mind behind ChicagoansForRio.com, ending a weeklong mini-mystery surrounding the satirical Web page."

Some mystery. A friend of mine knew days ago who had created the site and she says thanks to facebook and email so did a lot of other people. But the important thing is that Janega didn't know and said so. Bingo, he found out. It's the new journalism.

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