Michael J. Harrington | Chicago Reader

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Re: “Chicago gets rid of its cops—just like Oakland

Ben Joravsky connects the dots with some biting sports analogies and hits it out of the park again! "Paying teachers less and getting fewer cops to do more enables Mayor Rahm to take the money he saves on salaries and hand it over to rich developers to build upscale skyscrapers in high-rent neighborhoods that are already bursting with development."

8 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Michael J. Harrington on 01/04/2013 at 7:04 PM

Re: “Do as We Say, Not as We Do

Michael J. Harrington
All of us parents with kids in the school system depend and rely it to work. We know that every penny, nickle, and dime matters when it comes to determining what greatness is possible at our local school.

I don't begrudge any teacher or school administrator a decent salary. However, this article brings into focus the moral vacuum that exists at the top. The old Chicago schools truism is still true - spending increases the further you get away from the classroom.

Posted by Michael J. Harrington on 04/02/2010 at 12:03 AM

Re: “Blown Coverage

The “Fourth Estate” is asleep at the wheel in Chicago - as usual.

Why can’t we get more than tasty flash and glitter from the Chicago news media? Right now everyone is busy blaming everyone else for the emergence of scandal-plagued Scott Lee Cohen as the Democratic Party’s Illinois lieutenant governor nominee.

Yes, there was lots of blame to go around because nobody did much to stop a millionaire from taking the prize. Thankfully he has now dropped out. But somebody should have been paying attention to this train wreck of a candidate, right? But who?

I point to the news media, our historic fourth estate guardians of the court of public opinion. Chicago Sun-Times, political columnist Lynn Sweet tried to dump a bucket of blame on a single politician. in contrast to John Kass, she gave a tiny nod to news media culpability, but then quickly excused her industry, saying Chicago’s news media is “stretched-thin.”

Oh, our poor news media industry. It may be easy for Ms. Sweet to cite publishing’s economic troubles to explain why Cohen’s arrest record was ignored. But how does this sound to you? The economic crisis prevented Chicago’s publishers, editors, and writers from carrying out their fundamental responsibility to be public watchdogs on our behalf and inform us better. Yup, let’s blame the economy.

I think not. The instinct to give us “news you can use” began evaporating to a mere afterthought long ago. It doesn’t take a college degree to understand the new priorities: dumbed down drivel. These days the media is busy crafting ingenious ways to fill newspapers, magazines, radio/tv air waves, and the Internet with, for lack of a better term, frivolous entertainment.

I think not. Things were quite different years ago when I was a reporter and an assistant city editor for the famed but now dearly departed City News Bureau of Chicago. With today’s mainstream media landscape, it’s easy to see that the instinct to cover “news you can use” has evaporated to a mere afterthought. It doesn’t take a journalism degree to understand the new priorities: dumbed down drivel. These days the media is busy crafting ingenious ways to fill newspapers, magazines, radio/tv air waves, and the Internet with, for lack of a better term, frivolous entertainment.

Serious attention to news and information has been replaced by a manic focus on all sorts of nonsense. We are fed huge portions of diversion that are of no real consequence to our lives on this planet, everything from celebrity gossip to nightlife and sports features. How are voters in an election season to be informed when the media footprint for sensational flash and fluff is so huge and takes center stage?

Of course, there has been some good and valuable reportage on substantive affairs in our city, but it’s spotty and becoming harder to find without an exhausting Google search. In elections, our news media’s weak efforts are largely about the horserace element. Not enough about the who, what, where, or when . . . and little on why we should care who gets elected.

I’m not letting the news media off the hook for such negligence. I’m also not buying into the notion that they are only responding to the public’s supposed hunger for fluff news. Who told them we want more and flashier scoops on sex and Tiger Woods? I sent no letter asking for updates on pop star Michael Jackson, who these days is making more “news” as a dead man than he did when he was alive.

So, please, don’t tell us that our news media has a hard time researching, investigating, and reporting real news because it is “stretched thin.” Just report the truth. You stretched it thin. You invest the bulk of your resources in fluff. As for investing in strong journalism about real issues? Not so much.

Peace, Michael J. Harrington

Posted by MichaelinChicago on 02/08/2010 at 12:47 AM

Re: “Is This the Future of Chicago Journalism?

Has anybody dared ask why philanthropic foundations are pouring money into FOR PROFIT corporations?

Posted by MichaelinChicago on 11/09/2009 at 8:37 AM

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