Thursday, August 20, 2009

Herald's Chicken: Local Paper Confronts its Irrelevance


posted by chicago pop

Herald to world: "We are a little piqued."

World to Herald: "Who cares?"

The Herald is feeling a little left out these days. The University of Chicago has finally begun demolition at Harper Court, something we've known would happen for months now. They didn't tell the Herald the exact date when it was going to happen. Now the Herald is calling people names. They've lost access, and bemoan the fact in their most recent editorial ("Searching for U. of C. cooperation", Wednesday, August 19, 2009).

So what's the problem? It appears to be the fact that there is a new "Office of Civic Engagement", headed, as we know, by Ms. Anne Marie Lipinski. The Herald feels that, despite its name, the Office is not Engaging. Or, to be more precise, it is not giving the Herald the information it wants. So here's my question: given the way the Herald writes its editorials, why should it? What or who does the Herald represent, exactly? The "community"? That seems doubtful. So why should anyone cooperate with them?

The destiny of Harper Court has been known for some time now. There has been extensive coverage of the acquisition of the land, the community and TIF meetings updating people on the state of play. At some point, the buildings at Harper Court, legally emptied of their tenants and now on the market for redevelopment, had to come down. This week some of them did.

What didn't happen was that the University's Office of Civic Engagement gave the Herald a date and time when the bulldozers would roll in, giving our local paper everything it needed to run another loopy editorial summoning all old Harper Court die-hards to come chain themselves to fences, lamp posts, and railings in order to block demolition.

Engagement means interaction. It doesn't mean rolling over.

"But the pique of the Herald staff is not the issue," we're told. "We will get over it."

That's a relief. Meanwhile, bring on the new Harper Court.

20 comments:

Greg said...

It's just being contrary for its own sake. Doctor's Hospital wasn't a debacle until the preservationists got involved and saddled us with a white elephant, yet the Herald portays it as if the University was the culprit for wanting to redevelop it.

The Herald editors are mad because their collective ego is hurt. The Herald is redundant, irrelevant and increasingly impotent as the community as a whole begins to recognize local "preservationism" as obstructionism. It seems the only people who really pay any attention are the same group who voted the 39th precint dry, the same names you see time and again in the Letters to the Editor.

The Herald brings to mind images of lots of people sitting around a smoky newsroom, clacking away on ancient manual typewriters, taking photos with huge single-use flashbulbs, wearing suits with funny hats and buttons that say "press" on them. When they open their mouths, ragtime music comes out.

chicago pop said...

That's a wonderfully evocative last paragraph!

Elizabeth Fama said...

Naw, that last paragraph is too cool for the Herald.

george said...

Now, get it right! Office of CIVIC Engagement. "Community" isn't part of the title any more; "Office of Community Affairs" is ancient history. It's "Office of Civic Engagement." Let's be civic-minded, you know?

chicago pop said...

Thanks, George. Sloppy of me. Duly corrected.

Lightningrodd said...

I agree completely. When i read the editorial they tried to make it out like it was Mayor Daley's tearing up of Meigs Field secretly in the middle of the night. Everyone in HP knows that Harper Court is due for redevelopment and the HP Herald has been editorializing against it for months. So i couldn't understand their false sense of outrage. I still read the HP Herald because they still have useful info once in awhile. For example, in the last issue under the Dead or Alive section pg.9 they said a new grocery store is negotiating for the 47th st Co-Op location.

Greg said...

I'll believe a 47th street grocery store when I see it. Everyone from Carl Waggoner to the Herald have been saying "we're negotiating with a possible tenant, the deal is almost done" for years. Potentially, that could be a great location for the right store (Trader Joes!), but it's hamstrung by the Certified Grocer lease, everyone's demand for more money than its worth and now the building apparently needs a gut rehab on top of it. I dunno...

Richard Gill said...

If the Herald had begun to make any connection to the rational world, following its Co-op meltdown, it has lost it with its Harper Court editorial. Chicago Pop says it just right.

Say, when the 'dozers are done at Harper Court, could they maybe pay a call on Doctors Hospital? You know, since they're already in the neighborhood.

rdb said...

I thought the Hyde Park NIMBYs preferred vacant lots. That's what Harper Court will be for awhile, probably longer than it should be. Then the NIMBYs can fight to preserve the "open space" too.

Greg said...

I was over there one morning last week. It was pretty cool seeing the Bobcat driving around in the old Dixie Kitchen basement.

The NIMBYs aren't consistent in what they want. It's totally subjective and based entirely on their own whims and wants, or on what they don't want.

Richard Gill said...

"What didn't happen was that the University's Office of Civic Engagement gave the Herald a date and time when the bulldozers would roll in, giving our local paper everything it needed to run another loopy editorial summoning all old Harper Court die-hards to come chain themselves to fences, lamp posts, and railings in order to block demolition."

So the U of C did not give the Herald time and date. The U of C was smart. I, too, would find it difficult to trust the Herald.

edj said...

Maybe they can move the community garden there.

Jennifer Bremer MD said...

Every time I read this blog, I am so grateful someone is taking on the Hyde Park nonsense with such grace and humor. Thank you Chicago Pop and crew!

christoph said...

I like how Hyde Park Urbanist is dealing with its dwindling relevancy (no reader comments on any of the entries is one example) by attacking this blog's spot-on and hilarious article on the Herald's flailing attempt to illicit an outcry over the Harper Court demolishing.

Zig and Lou said...

Or, we can move the gardens over to the Muntu Dance Theater site at 47th and Greenwood....

Elizabeth Fama said...

What IS the current plan regarding the Muntu Dance Theater? I hear the foundation didn't pass inspection...are they also out of money? It's an eyesore, and the concrete barriers at the curbs make it difficult to park near Z&H Market Cafe.

edj said...

In looking up information on the Muntu situation, I saw that the Herald has "Breaking News" on its site that Michael's Fresh Market has signed a lease for the 47th Street Co-op Store. It's a small chain that has stores in Naperville and up north on the 6200 block. Interesting choice.

I was looking to see what information the Herald had on the Muntu building situation. I was wondering what reporting they have done on construction progress. Nothing found for 2009 from a quick search.

I found this "Time Out" article (at end) about the Muntu Dance Theater. You have to look at the end to find the information. It appears they got some stimulus funding (not surprising since the first lady once hosted a fundraiser for the theater) and they changed contractors - which would indicate problems with construction. The article appears to be from sometime in July.

I wonder why the Herald hasn't reported on this.

http://chicago.timeout.com/articles/dance/76224/muntu-dance-theatre-at-the-harris-theater-dance-preview

chicago pop said...

You guys don't get it ... the gardens can't be moved to any other location because it just won't be as good anywhere else.

chicago pop said...

If anyone wants to do a little digging on Muntu etc. let me know and if it's OK we'll run your piece.

christoph said...

looks like they are still taking donations
http://www.muntu.com/support_muntu/naming_opportunities.html