Thursday, July 10, 2008

Herald's Chicken: Herald Headline Contradicts Article; Sharonjoy Declares Self Empress of East Hyde Park Shrubbery, etc.

posted by chicago pop

Herald's Chicken: Making Obama Proud

After Elizabeth Fama deconstructed Crystal Fencke's article on Point preservation in the June 25 Hyde Park Herald, I've scanned the following two issues looking for any sign of editorial corrections. Most newspapers issue corrections every day. The Herald has plenty of time to accumulate them, and they would certainly help fill up space in the absence of news, but I haven't found any.

Based on Fama's critique of Fencke's "Learning the Latest about Promontory Point's Rescue", I counted 3 outright factual errors (such as: "The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency stopped the project"), and at least 3 uncorroborated assertions. Any real reporting would have dug into the controversy on the issue and attempted to present the different sides of the story.

Of course this requires work, and it's much easier to flip through the Rolodex, call the same three people that you always talk to, and crank out obviously slanted lines like "the community didn't accept this 'concreting over' of the sensitive historic site", which gives a journalistic foot massage to the assembled members of the Executive Committee of the Community Task Force for Promontory Point.

So I was not at all surprised when I read this week's Fencke piece, "Hyde Park farmers market in full swing", and noticed that the content of the article contradicted the headline.

"In full swing" suggests going at full capacity, a great success, can't be stopped, all pistons firing, look out we're going to run you over. Read on and you learn that "vendors have been wrapping up their weekly Thursday visits at about 12:30...rather than the 2PM time listed on the city of Chicago website."

And again: "Of the more than 20 such seasonal markets around the city, it seems that the market in Hyde Park is slow to catch on with the public this year."

Full swing. Got it.

On a more reassuring note, Sharonjoy A. Jackson, in a letter to the July 9 edition, declares herself Empress of East Hyde Park Shrubbery, and has recognized select Park District employees as her worthy vassals.

As with the Point Savers, in keeping with a certain law of local activism, bureaucratic elephantitis presents itself whenever the membership of a neighborhood group shrinks below the number of letters in the name of their organization, resulting in snappy titles such as "The Steering Committee Members of the Lakefront Task Force for Hyde Park."

A worthy tid-bit:

Yesterday, and today, many trees and bushes are being planted in, and around, the Promontory Annex, in response to the many trees felled by strong wind sheers [sic] and storms for the past two years or more.

So, in the spirit of Sharonjoy's New Imperial Syntax, I'll sign off by remarking that yesterday, but not today, I went to Summer Dance, which was at, and in, 63rd Street Beach House, where I danced around, and about, to the Willie Gomez con Cache Orchestra, and enjoyed myself both at the time, and in reflection.


Zig & Lou said...

"worthy vassals" would be a great name for a Spinal Tap cover band.

Anonymous said...

Just an FYI, having worked for newspapers in the past, it's actually the particular editor's fault for writing that headline (news editor, perhaps copy editor, etc.)

Headlines are often the last thing written because of the space/formatting constraints when doing layout. The editor probably didn't read the article carefully. They saw that it was about the farmer's market and just threw down a headline that seemed ok and fit the space.

LPB said...


Isn't it the editor's job to read an article *carefully*? I thought that was part of the purpose of having someone perform the editing function.

Hmmm. We've already seen how accurately the Herald's reporters convey information, thanks to Elizabeth's nice dissection of Crystal's piece on the Point.

If the Herald editor didn't read the article carefully enough to come up with a headline that was consistent with the tenor of the article, I guess this means the Herald's editors aren't so good at their jobs either.

Wow, the chain of incompetence is incredible.

chicago pop said...

Greg's point is taken -- the headline screw-up in this particular case is the news/copy editor's fault. So is the bad reporting on the Point, or at least the fact that it got past the editors. I guess the pool of people who don't know or don't care what they're doing at the Hyde Park Herald is just that much larger.

Anonymous said...


Sure it's the editor's responsibility to make sure they write an accurate headline. They definitely blew it here.

And I'd say much of the fact checking is pretty bad as well, if the article contains that many inconsistencies and outright incorrect statements. I'd say this particular aticle was probably thrown together at the last second, not researched properly by the writer, and not checked carefully by the responsible editor. Actually, it would be as many as two or three editors, since the section/topic editor is responsible for the section, the copy editor is responsible for the accuracy, grammar, AP style adherence, etc. of the paper as a whole, and the Editor in Chief should have a final look before going to press. So yeah, not the best paper this week. It does reflect poorly on them as a news source: even though it's just a "local" paper, that's no excuse for sloppy journalism.