Thursday, August 9, 2007

Herald's Chicken: No News is News

A common occurrence in the Hyde Park Herald is news stories that report no news. This week's Herald (August 8, 2007) contains a classic example. "Mixed Signals at Harper Court" reports that some Harper Court tenants are leaving and others are signing new leases. The events cited in the article (the closure of Dr. Wax Records and the addition of an office for a state senator) are not news -- they have been reported before in the Herald's pages. Instead of news, we are treated to a great deal of editorializing peppered with quotes from local Establishment types from the Hyde Park- Kenwood Community Conference.

These non-events represent a "reversal in policy" at Harper Court. The reporter provides no evidence to back up this claim. Tenants who can't afford the rent and leave as well as the signing of new tenants is standard operating procedure for any retail operation. Can you imagine the Sun-Times reporting with a straight face that there are ominous goings on at Watertower Place because Abercrombie and Fitch moved out and Gap moved in?

The reporter can't even decide which events are consistent with the conspiracy theory and which are not. For example, the departure of Toys et Cetera is cited as ominous evidence that "local businesses" are being forced out of Harper Court. As reported in the Herald and cited in this blog, Toys et Cetera moved to the Hyde Park Shopping Center and is doing very well. So the evidence is that U.S. Computech is moving in. U.S. Computech is a local business that has been on 53rd Street for many years. The reporter is hoping to confuse the reader into thinking that "U.S." Computech is a national chain store.

Even more absurd than the rehash of old events sprinkled with editorial comments are the quotes from HP-KCC head, George Rumsey, and secretary, Gary Ossewaard. Both lead the charge to retard development in our neighborhood. What gets under the skin of the HP-KCC is that they can't control the decisions made by Harper Court management. They believe they are entitled to interfere in private business transactions simply because they have appointed themselves as community spokesmen.

The only tidbit of "reporting" in this editorial is the "confirmation" by "sources" of the identity of new Harper Court tenants. For reasons that we can only speculate on, the reporter doesn't feel the need to cite these sources. Do they even exist?

The Herald seldom publishes editorials anymore. They don't need to. They masquerade as news stories. What is sad about this is that the Herald has at least 3 reporters who could actually report on issues of concern to our neighborhood. For example, the Tribune has no full time staff devoted to Hyde Park but routinely runs circles around the Herald. Today's Tribune reports on the huge success of the Blue cart program (August 9 edition). This is a story about Hyde Park. The Tribune recently featured stories about the "food desert" on the South Side and how Peapod is serving neighborhoods that don't have a grocery store (HP is one of those neighborhoods). This story could have been done by the Herald. The Herald could report in detail on how much longer the Co-op will keep afloat (this would require a lot of hard work but the Herald has the staff to do it).

It is time for the new editor of the Herald to step up the quality of this publication and insist that his reporters report the news.


chicago pop said...


Elizabeth Fama said...

Speaking of the Tribune article about the blue barrel program...has anyone been able to figure out why they lump the 5th ward and the 8th ward together in all of their statistics? Is it because the trucks make their rounds through the two wards at the same time, so that the recyclables are combined?