Those Were the Days | Letters | Chicago Reader

Those Were the Days 

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The article by Ray Hanania documenting the changing of the pressroom at City Hall during the reign of Mayor Jane Byrne [March 19] brought back memories of my days as a journalist. Although I only worked for a southwest-side community paper at the time, the Southwest News-Herald, I would frequently bump into Hanania and his cronies from the "big papers" when the mayor journeyed out southwest for some media event. I first met Hanania prior to his days as a City Hall reporter and found him a bit friendlier than the other big shots, who seemed irritated they had to come out to the "bungalow belt," as then alderman William O. Lipinski called the southwest side. Journalists would frequently make snide remarks about Byrne or her husband, something that was rarely done in prior administrations. No doubt Byrne deserved criticism for a lot of the things she was doing at the time, but unfortunately it seemed some reporters allowed their feelings to affect their news judgment. The change in the pressroom was a good thing for Chicago journalism, and Hanania's assessment of the press at that time was pretty accurate. Now, if I could only have had Jay McMullen threaten to punch me in the nose instead of Hanania, maybe I could have ended up at the Sun-Times and he still would be writing "Political Grapevine" for the Daily Southtown!

Tom Downes



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