honorary Hose Monster:
The front page of the Sun-Times today reads, "Bulls Charge Back." This headline comes in reaction to the Dow closing up nearly 500 points yesterday.
I cannot stand the Sun-Times. It's the most sensationalistic, pander-to-the-basest-impulse-to-increase-circulation paper I know of that's not sold on a supermarket checkout stand or in Europe. After the last few months of generally negative market news, one day of good trading causes a major newspaper to throw the word "bull" on its front page because that's what people want to see, and people seeing what they want to see translates into people buying papers.
I must be naïve enough to think that newspapers still preserve some touch of objectivity in their job and the nature of their work is important enough to sustain it, not the circulation numbers.
I used to work on the campus newspaper when I was in college, and while we all knew that it was a pretty crappy paper (an award-winning crappy paper at that), at least on a very superficial level, the youthful exuberance of the kids and their perhaps idealistic view of the importance of a free, objective press gave me plenty of reason to overlook the often poor quality of the reporting and writing. (I was a photographer, making me immune, of course, to my own criticism.)
I think the absence of a quality major newspaper is one of Chicago's major drawbacks. Residents ostensibly have the choice of either reading the Sun-Times or the Chicago Tribune. I've already claimed the Sun-Times is a tabloid running under the auspices of a reputable paper; I think the only redeeming quality of the paper is its emphasis on local reporting (which, to be fair, is well done) and their blind passion for the Bears. While this may not make for quality stories, in this city, if you don't read every word on the Bears Monday morning, you're not a true Chicagoan . (And for the record, I'm not.) So at the very least, the Sun-Times has its finger on an important pulse of this city.
The Tribune, while not a bastion of outstanding journalism, is at least on a similar level of writing as some other major metropolitan dailies. The writing tries to be high-brow enough to look like a respectable paper. Too bad then that the Tribune has sacrificed all possible appearance of objectivity to its conservative tendencies. I used to read the Trib because I needed to read something, but after all the editorials and the coverage around the 2000 presidential election and 2001 Supreme Court decision, I just couldn't take it any more.
Yes, I did vote for Gore, so my bias is now clear. On the other hand, I didn't buy his "I won the popular vote" argument for a damn second. (Al was I believe the 3rd presidential candidate in history to receve the majority popular vote while losing the electoral college vote. In a country often guided by precedent, Gore sounded like a big moron, and so did everyone who bought his argument. That's just the way it goes here.) But with phrases in beat stories like "Gore clinging to a sinking ship" and his "refusal to let the voters' decision stand," not to mention editorial titles with wording like "Give It Up, Al" and "The Voters Have Spoken, But Who's Listening?", I had to shake my head and abandon my readership. Yes, editorials, by their nature are supposed to be opinionated. I guess I just believe that it's possible to demonstrate an opinion without resorting to cliché or the bully pulpit. In my opinion, that's the responsibility a truly excellent paper embraces.
No wonder so many people in this city read the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times and completely eschew their local papers.
On a much more positive note, what a wonderful surprise to arrive at work and see that Ashley (of Tony Pierce fame) had visited my blog and left a comment. True, I may have upset her with my writing just a touch, but I'm sincerely flattered that she even found her way to my page and bothered reading it. Makes me wonder how she got here. Anyway, Ashley, if you make your way here again, even though we may or may not have differing opinions, you're an angel. Thanks for visiting. And for the record, I thought today's guest blogger talking about searching for midget strippers was pretty entertaining.