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* Word from inside WLS Radio is that their advertising is tanking and that the people who run the station have no clue that Chicago is a news junkie town.

One of the most experienced city hall reporters is Bill Cameron. WLS let him go a couple of weeks ago and the Chicagoist has an interview

“I miss the beat,” says Bill Cameron. “But hopefully I’ll be able to get back to it sooner rather than later.” Cameron is no longer on that beat because he was let go by his employers, WLS Radio, a couple Fridays back in what’s being called the Leap Day Massacre.

* Cameron makes a good point in this bit…

That Rezko trial is a good example of how there was such demand to stuff Blagojevich’s campaign coffers with so many millions to scare off any serious competition, that they did things like shaking down investment firms for campaign contributions in exchange for getting a crack at the investment business.

He’s absolutely right about that.

* Another top-notch city hall reporter is Fran Spielman with the Sun-Times. If you want to hear how she gets under Mayor Daley’s skin, just take a listen to this raw audio of hizzoner’s press conference yesterday.

Daley goes out of his way to try to ignore Fran’s questions, but she comes right back at him time and time again. Daley eventually leaves the podium under a hail of questions from Fran, but she continued to pepper staff. Classic. Here’s her story.

* Baseball blogs are all the rage these days, but the brainiacs who think they own the game are making life more difficult for bloggers. Stupid

Not again. Now Major League Baseball is stepping into the sports versus Web swamp, attempting to limit the degree to which its games are covered online.

Examples, under MLB’s newly announced rules: You can post up to seven photos from a game, but you can’t make a “photo gallery.” You can’t leave them up for more than 72 hours.

“Enjoy the game,” the league might as well add. “Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.”

* Speaking of blogs, Harris Interactive has a new poll

Just one in ten (19%) Echo Boomers (those aged 18-31) regularly read a political blog and only 17 percent of Gen Xers (those aged 32-43) say the same. Matures (those aged 63 and older) are actually the generation most likely to be political blog readers as just over one-quarter (26%) say they regularly do so followed by 23 percent of Baby Boomers (those aged 44-62). Also, one hears of the rabid blogs on both sides of the political aisle, but just 22 percent of Republicans and 20 percent of Democrats regularly read blogs. Independents are the ones slightly more likely to read these, as just over one-quarter (26%) say they regularly read political blogs.

Looking at those who regularly do read political blogs, over half (54%) read one or two at least once a week with an additional 22 percent reading 3-4 at least once a week. And, while they may read these, they do not comment on them. Over two-thirds (69%) of those who regularly read blogs did not comment on one in the previous week. Republicans are slightly more likely than Democrats to comment. One-third of Republicans (34%) commented in the previous week compared to 28 percent of Democrats. […]

When compared to the mainstream media, one-third of regular blog readers (33%) say the information they read on blogs is more valuable, half (49%) say just as valuable and just 18 percent say it is less valuable.


posted by Rich Miller
Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 9:15 am


  1. As far as the stats on just dropping in and reading but not commenting that squares with my statistics. I also agree with the age groupings. My dad is 63 and I’m amazed at how many blogs he talks about reading a week. When will these polical folks realize that this internet thing isn’t a youngster thing anymore? The youngsters are playing XBox online and twittering each other.

    Comment by Mark Johnson Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 9:34 am

  2. I agree about Fran Spielman. I don’t read the Sun-Times much, but I do read her stuff (online) when I can. She covers City Hall better than anyone.

    To the point about Chicago being a news-junkie town. For a town like this, the Tribune does a remarkably poor job of covering local government. City Hall coverage is almost non-existent, and the County Board is covered only when something extreme is being done. The Trib almost never lists who votes for/against matters on the County Board or in City Hall, making it more difficult to be an educated voter.

    For Chicago residents who care about their immediate neighborhood, there is a great web site that has the most local of local coverage (block by block):

    Comment by Skeeter Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 9:41 am

  3. I to this day am amazed how little coverage Governmetn gets in the mainstream media overall. We rarely see detailed coverage of University budget, or university operations. Universities operate under some sacred decree that reporters should not expose their inner workings. Obvious targets like mascots and political correctness get coverage, but what about the operations? Who is in charge, what are they being paid, what are funds going too etc. Seems an area rife for investigative reporting.

    Same thing for State agencies. Seems like the get coverage only after some kind of scandal breaks, and then focused only on already identified scandal. No one diggs into their budgets, what is being spent where, who is in charge, what their background is etc. No operational meat so to speak.

    In the news now era the AP has become a crutch to many news companies utilize for filler. Investigative reporting is dieing out. Instead of finding stories reporting today waits for hot tips, leaks or scandals to break. The end result, more and more people are starting to look at Blogs. Blogs tend to bring out the detail missing from the mainstream. I am not surprised by the age info, I think we all spend our youth in play. When your young with little to no money life is about the moment. When you get older, have resources, and are looking to watch over a family, plan for the future or safe guard your retirment, you get drawn more into watching government and the world. Blogs are a great source of info nowadays, many times carrying the detail and information the papers seem to miss.

    Comment by Ghost Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 10:04 am

  4. If you’d like to try an experiement in physics, criticize the media, and see how quickly wagons can be circled. Evan Thomas had a great piece last week about the “myth of objectivity” in the media. Most try to be objective, but bias is almost impossible to avoid. What IS true about the media, he states, is that it thrives on conflict - it sells, and whatever flavor will do.
    How many in the media gave a sigh of relief when Hillary won Texas and Ohio? “YES, six more weeks of fighting, at least!!”. As for “bringing us together”…it may be sincere, but it will never be allowed to happen even if most people like the idea. The truth is some people/sectors equal Harmony/Civility with = Loss of Income. If peace breaks out, my job/$ is in jeopardy. Call me cynical, but I think I’m being honest, and cynics are never as disappointed as optimists. To paraphrase, “a cynic is an optimist that just got mugged”.

    Comment by Fair and Balanced.....right. Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 10:05 am

  5. Chicago a news junkie town. That’s news to me as well.

    Comment by Levois Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 10:16 am

  6. Fair, most historians will tell you that any description of an event, reporters or historians, shape the facts around their own perceptions. Bias is such an odd word. We are all influenced by our life experience, and it shapes our perception. As culture changes we tend to re-analayze (rewrite) history to take the current perceptiosn and experiences into account. There is no such thing as neutral information, even to the observer. What you see is perceived by you based on your life experience. technically there could be no truly neutral reporting. There is no universal perception to use as a template. its part of what makes us interesting and keeps Rich’s secrert society (the combine) funded. Take Blago, I would bet he actually percieves he is doing a good job.

    Comment by Ghost Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 10:23 am

  7. I’ll agree that Fran Spielman does a nice job of covering City Hall, especially when compared to the Tribune.

    Ben Joravsky (and to a lesser extent Mitch Dumke) from the Chicago reader are head and shoulders above the rest of the region’s publications. Ben’s most recent posting detailed how the Sun-Times and Tribune have failed to cover TIFs, as the editors of these papers feel that the issue is too complex for the consumer.

    TIFs need to be addressed, from a media perspective, perhaps more so than any other financial-related issue in Chicago.

    Comment by The Doc Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 10:43 am

  8. Doc, I agree that TIFs need a lot more discussion, but Ben focuses almost solely on TIFs and that doesn’t make him a better all-around reporter than Fran.

    Comment by Rich Miller Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 10:48 am

  9. Rich, I agree, and didn’t mean to imply that Ben’s body of work trumps Fran’s. Fran obviously reports on numerous topics in regards to City Hall, while most of Ben’s work product is TIF and property tax-centric. This particular issue (TIF) is simply one that gets me riled up, since the coverage of it is minimal.

    Comment by The Doc Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 10:59 am

  10. Mainstream journalism, be it TV, radio, or print, are now all driven by the same media consultants. Coverage is increasingly personality driven, even government and politics. No numbers, please. And it’s all increasingly the same — the Conventional Wisdom, dreary and predictable.

    Here’s to the Blogosphere — all range and manner of information and discussion from which to pick and choose. The Marketplace of Ideas. The more and more source documents we can get on government sites, the better as well.

    Comment by wordslinger Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 11:00 am

  11. I never listened to WMAQ, but I enjoyed Cameron’s analysis and commnentary whenever I occasionally listened during Roe Con’s afternoon drive show on WLS. I hope Cameron lands another political coverage gig soon.

    Local radio and TV do a terrible job of covering state and local government. I intentionally ignore local coverage of soap opera stories that the media covers ad nauseum - like the Stacey/Drew Peterson situation. Thank goodness for the internet and the blogosphere!

    Comment by Captain America Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 11:25 am

  12. Government should get more coverage, in talk shows and newspapers, since Illinois has so many governments to cover. Although four states have more people and 24 states are larger, in area, IL is the state that has the most governments. Including counties, townships, towns, school districts, park boards, library boards, and sanitation districts, IL has 6,855 governments.

    Comment by PhilCollins Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 11:27 am

  13. What the hell is an “Echo Boomer”? I have never heard that name before…

    Comment by Bill S. Preston, Esq. Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 11:48 am

  14. The key question is “Who is Better Informed?”

    This poll assumes it answers that question, but it doesn’t, does it?

    People read what they want to. If the television and print media doesn’t deliver, then citizens will turn to other sources including blogs.

    Why read yesterday’s news about something when you can go directly to a news source in the thick of it and decide for yourself.

    I also believe that those who depend on the Internet obviously have many more sources of news than those who rely on television or print. How many newspaper readers have twenty daily subscriptions? How many Internet users go to Real Clear Politics, or Daily Kos and get access to thirty different takes on the news?

    People will read what they want to. If they wish to stay ignorant by depending on biased news sources, they have that choice.

    Comment by VanillaMan Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 12:17 pm

  15. It is too bad about Cameron, but I got the distinct feeling he had been coasting in that job for some time. maybe not by his own choice, but whatever.

    When I travel on long drives I like to listen to Roe’s show on WLS, and if you follow such a show for 4-plus hours you realize pretty soon that Bill and Jim just re-hash the same one or two stories and AP headlines over and over each hour, stories that happened the day before or early that morning, and there’s really no follow-up all day. I guess the assumption is that nobody listens to more than an hour of Roe, is it “seems” like fresh news to the average listener. News is definitely an afterthought at WLS. Has been for a long time. Any public radio station ’s local Chicago and state coverage beats them all to heck. The tiny amount of weekend and late night community affairs programming they did was way too little.

    I believe Chicago IS a good news junkie market, but what’s happening in newspapers is also happening in electronic media: an overall contraction in resources applied to news over entertainment and advertising. Management commits ever fewer dollars to the job of actually digging up and reporting stories, in favor of lazy alternatives like cribbing off the AP and whatever some print journalist has already discovered.

    Comment by Gregor Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 12:29 pm

  16. I listen to Chicago Public Radio for most of my news, and I read the Reader most every week.

    Its nice to see the TIF issue picking up steam. Ald. Waguespack showed up at a Lincoln Park DFA event featuring Jovarsky and pledged to oppose any further expansion of TIF’s. Bravo Waggy!

    Spielman might be a better city hall reporter, though I’m not convinced, but how many column issues does she actually get? City Hall coverage in both papers always seems sparse when I actually pick up one of the papers. Springfield coverage is even worse, except on certain days of the month when a certain blogger has his column.

    Oh, and the powers that be at MLB suck. Selig has the sense that Wirtz had when it comes to new technology. Of course, for Wirtz, that meant black and white TV’s with rabbit ears.

    Comment by jerry 101 Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 1:05 pm

  17. “Just one in ten (19%) Echo Boomers…”

    Yikes! I hope the rest of their math is better than this.

    Comment by Old Elephant Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 1:19 pm

  18. Never heard of echo boom myself Bill. Found a wikipedia definition here

    Comment by Ghost Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 1:32 pm

  19. Shame on WLS management for dumping Bill Cameron as well as Jennifer Kuiper, Christina Filliagi and others deemed non-essential by the new no-nothings at the Big 89. The Roe Conn show has already suffered some and the local news and Chicago beat coverage is significantly weakened.
    This from a Gen-Xer who reads two political blogs almost every day.

    Comment by Jake from Elwood Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 1:32 pm

  20. oops, know-nothings

    Comment by Jake from Elwood Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 1:33 pm

  21. “Its nice to see the TIF issue picking up steam. Ald. Waguespack showed up at a Lincoln Park DFA event featuring Jovarsky and pledged to oppose any further expansion of TIF’s. Bravo Waggy!”
    I live in Waggy’s district, and this statement is puzzling. I’m not sure voting against any and all future TIFs is a good idea. What I am saying is that Daley has abused the tool, and as a result had to significantly increase property taxes, cut spending, and enact a hiring freeze (amongst others) in order to balance the budget.

    Comment by The Doc Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 1:36 pm

  22. Therefore, it seems like Waguespack is interested in a sound byte rather than considering a piece of legislation on its merits.

    What’s to say he won’t cave in when the next TIF comes to a vote, especially after the Daley machine comes a-knockin’ on his door? He is, after all, a freshman alderman, and doesn’t exactly boast a record, short as it may be, of independency.

    Comment by The Doc Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 2:29 pm

  23. Thanks Ghost. I guess it makes sense, although I always thought GenY came after GenX. I also wasn’t aware that there were subgeneration categories like MTV Generation and Internet Generation.

    Generation-naming - bravo to the guys who have made a science of it. What a racket…

    Comment by Bill S. Preston, Esq. Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 2:40 pm

  24. What’s up here? Is MLB limiting access like the IHSA?

    Comment by BehindTheScenes Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 3:41 pm

  25. Nope. This isn’t about reselling the photos at a huge markup. Different story. Completely.

    Comment by Rich Miller Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 3:47 pm

  26. Spielman is a machine. The audio clearly demonstrates her commitment, and her productivity is amazing.

    The “Unfiltered” audio series is an exciting new occasional feature of WBEZ’s website.

    Comment by BannedForLife Friday, Mar 14, 08 @ 4:20 pm

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