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Advocacy journalism

Monday, Jun 23, 2008

* You have to make sure to closely read stories like this

Marlon Pendleton walked out of an Illinois prison a hopeful man after more than a decade locked up for a rape he did not commit.

Cleared by DNA evidence, he sought a pardon from the governor and about $140,000 in automatic state compensation. Two years later, he’s still waiting, his optimism frayed by poverty that has him sleeping on his sister’s couch in Indiana.

“They say once you pay your debt to society, it’s over,” said Pendleton, his voice bristling with anger. “But I didn’t even owe a debt to society, and I paid it, and it’s not over.”

* It’s indeed odd that the governor seems to be procrastinating so much on pardons and clemencies, particularly when he can expedite a politically expedient pardon for Rev. Jesse Jackson.

However, after reading 952 words of the Trib’s story, we get this nugget…

But Pendleton’s case isn’t clear-cut. In addition to the 1992 rape for which he was exonerated, he was convicted in 1994 in a separate sexual assault. Pendleton was convicted after the victim identified him as the attacker in a police lineup.

Pendleton claims he’s innocent on that one, too, but there’s no DNA evidence so it’s fairly easy to see why Blagojevich has been reluctant to use his pardoning powers with this particular case.

* We’ve talked about this before, but the Sun-Times has really crossed the line on this one

The state’s All Kids insurance program for children now has more than 1,200 new applicants.

On Saturday, hundreds of volunteers at locations throughout the city and suburbs processed 1,217 applications for All Kids, exceeding the goal of the 1,000 Healthy Kids & Families campaign sponsored by Resurrection Health Care and the Chicago Sun-Times.

No mention of the well-known defects in the All Kids program (difficulty signing up specialists, for instance), and no mention of the political firestorm surrounding the governor’s numerous health care expansion plans. Just pure PR.

Resurrection Health Care’s PR firm is the Haymarket Group. The firm’s principals meet often with Sun-Times honchos to pitch ideas during notoriously long lunches at Gene & Giorgetti’s. This looks like a Haymarket special.

* They even had a gimmick to promote the plan, duly noted in the Sun-Times

Gov. Blagojevich is promising a free $50 gas card for the first 1,000 families that enroll at least one child in the state’s All Kids insurance program today as part of the “1,000 Healthy Kids and Families” campaign.

* OneMan sardonically notes

Any bets on if the cards have Rod’s name on them? Looking forward to what other state programs will give you incentives for participating.

If nothing else what does this say about us as a society when we have to offer a gas card to get people to sign their kids up for a state child health program or what does this say about our governor?

* Meanwhile, speaking of advocacy journalism

The Huffington Post is planning to expand into local news across the US, founder Arianna Huffington said last night, beginning with a site edited for the community of Chicago.

Huffington said the Chicago site would aggregate news, sports, crime, arts and business news from different local sources as well as contributions from bloggers in what will be the first of a series of projects in “dozens of US cities”. The Chicago site will initially be curated by just one editor.

“We are aspiring to be a newspaper in that we want to covering all news, not just the political blogging the way we began,” said Huffington, speaking at Guardian News & Media’s internal Future of Journalism conference.

Competition is good, but Chicago is a very tough market. Chicagoans prefer the familiar, which is why we’ve seen the same old faces on our teevees for decades.

It’s also a highly complicated political environment. Newbies are routinely eaten alive.

Still, it’s a big market so there’s plenty of room for another publication. I think it’s an exciting development. Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anon 4:08pm - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 9:47 am:

    All Kids was created “through the front door” - legislative approval sought, rules through JCAR. Why would an article regarding enrolling children into AllKids include a discussion of the mess with the other programs?

  2. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 9:52 am:

    ===Why would an article regarding enrolling children into AllKids include a discussion of the mess with the other programs?===

    Perspective, perhaps?

  3. - Vote Quimby! - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 9:55 am:

    I think the Huffington news is exciting and is another front on the war against traditional newspapers. S-T and Trib are reeling yet the city is home to many newsmakers: a presidential candidate, two first-place baseball teams, a soon-to-be-maybe indicted governor, and is trying to host the Olympics.
    Will it be successful? Will it make a profit? I doubt it, but its still good news.

  4. - Thomas Westgard - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 9:56 am:

    Resurrection Healthcare has a serious problem with delivering charity care - their rates of charity care are so low that they correctly fear losing their nonprofit status. So this effort to sign kids up for a state-funded program is a distraction from keeping their own house clean. If they were really serious about doing the right thing, they’d start at home. Resurrection Healthcare has ways of helping kids that don’t include state funding, but somehow those needed changes didn’t float to the top.

    Will the Sun-Times be getting some lucrative Resurrection advertising for their participation in the red herring / PR stunt?

  5. - Wumpus - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 9:56 am:

    Despite their pattern of voting, Chicagoans don’t take kindly to an obviously partisan approach. My opinion, but Rich, you have nothing to worry about.

  6. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 9:57 am:

    ===My opinion, but Rich, you have nothing to worry about.===

    The more the merrier.

  7. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 9:58 am:

    If they expect to cover Chicago politics, the Huffington Post has no choice but to also cover crime.

    Same players.

  8. - Red Ranger - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 10:10 am:

    In regards to the Govs name being on the gas cards…I have noticed that the Gov’s name is on fewer State printed ads. At least on the CTA it seems like the Gov’s name has been replaced with “Office of the Governor.” Dont know if this is an isolated incident, or part of a larger pattern.

  9. - Vote Quimby! - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 10:13 am:

    Isn’t there some term (like payola in radio) to call these ‘news-ish’ articles? And people wonder why newspapers are dying….. at least the execs get the long lunches.

  10. - so-called "Austin Mayor" - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 10:14 am:

    “Chicagoans prefer the familiar, which is why we’ve seen the same old faces on our teevees for decades.”

    Not to mention Michael Sneed’s zombie column in the Sun-Times. While her lurching, lifeless pieces don’t actually eat brains, reading them does cause severe brain damage. Fortunately, her writing is so immemorable that the effect passes quickly.

    Perhaps Arianna Huffington will be Chicago’s Dr. Van Helsing, and will rid us of the many undead shades that haunt the Chicago press.

    – SCAM
    so-called “Austin Mayor”

  11. - Ghost - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 10:21 am:

    The problem with All Kids, it pays somthing like 40 cents on the dollar, if the doctor is lucky. And thats when they actually pay the bill. Few doctors who will take this form of payment, and you should be cautious about those who do. Who cares how many kids are enrolled, if yah can’t get a quality doctor to treat you when your in the program, then being enrolled is a meaningless gesture.

    Instead of spending money on gas cards, they need to up the re-imbursment rates to the same level as private insurance; and pay the bills within 60 days.

  12. - Leroy - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 10:23 am:

    I don’t remember anyone being critical of AllKids when it was proposed back a few years ago, (including the Hon. John Fritchey). Granted, Blago was still a ‘good guy’ in those days, and wasn’t nearly the hellspawn he is now, but still…

    The program is a boondoggle. I can’t help but think we get what we deserve. But to think someone in the GA would have the stones to oppose a program called ‘AllKids’…well even Barack ‘Superman’ Obama himself couldn’t stop a freight train like that.

  13. - Little Egypt - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 10:23 am:

    If these gas cards are, in fact, a voucher for the gas station to send in to the State for reimbursement, then they aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. I’m skeptical of them being a truly free $50 gas card that can be presented to any gas station. But I can be convinced otherwise with proof.

  14. - DeepFriedOnAStick - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 10:28 am:

    Local and/or niche content is where it’s at if you want to sell advertising online. Right, Rich?

    From mid-size dailies to big dailies like the Trib, you’re seeing newspapers step up they’re local focus to better define their readership — all in the name of advertising. Advertisers don’t want exposure to everybody and their mother; they want exposure to a well-defined market.

    Huffington is just the latest online news outlet to emphasize local content. Consider — a national, online-only political news service that focuses almost exclusively on local content. By focusing on local stories (much as Rich does here), is attempting to draw political insiders from each state to its respective state pages, so it may then sell ads to firms trying to reach political insiders in some or all states.

    It sounds like Huffington is going in the same direction.

  15. - Ghost - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 10:36 am:

    Perhaps Huffington could join with all kids, every subscription dually enrolles you in the All Kids program at the same time.

  16. - Vote Quimby! - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 10:41 am:

    lol ghost….plus if you’re a senior citizen you get to surf for free!

  17. - Redbright - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 10:56 am:

    It is the nature of the Huffington Post to call upon people like Rich to fill the website. Rich would get national exposure on HuffPost and more people would visit his blog.

    And I doubt any posters on this blog are going to complain if there are more people - even newbies- checking out the activities of Chicago and IL officials. It would be great to have people following around the Toddler.

  18. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 10:57 am:

    ===Rich would get national exposure on HuffPost and more people would visit his blog.===

    Not interested unless there is a huge (and I do mean huge) check involved.

  19. - wordslinger - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 10:59 am:

    Red Ranger, I noticed that, too, on the CTA ads. I was absolutely shocked — just “Office of the Governor, State of Illinois.” No mention of Rod anywhere. It was like being in a parallel universe.

  20. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 11:01 am:

    I wonder if Daley had anything to do with that?

  21. - Douglas M. - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 11:56 am:

    I hope the people who sign up and get the gas card claim that amount as income on their tax returns.

  22. - unclesam - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 12:11 pm:


    No mention about the results of the cross-town series from this weekend?

    No factual update on the two Chicago teams?

    What gives?

  23. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 12:13 pm:

    Was there a ballgame last weekend? I hadn’t noticed.

  24. - unclesam - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 12:16 pm:

    Maybe Kevin can provide some indepth coverage on the cross-town series.

  25. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 12:17 pm:

    Not if he wants to keep his job.

  26. - unclesam - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 12:18 pm:


    I do admire and respect the level of dedication you have for your beloved Sox.

  27. - Pat Collins - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 12:19 pm:

    Huffington Post

    So, we can expect WINGO to return? :)

  28. - Vote Quimby! - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 12:34 pm:

    “We are are not here to talk about the past and we are looking forward to hosting the other baseball team in town this coming weekend,” Capitol Fax spokesperson Abby Ottenhoff said.

  29. - ct-ehhhhhhhh - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 12:57 pm:

    CTA ads without his name? Perhaps he is following his own ethics law…

  30. - adam smith - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 1:06 pm:

    Just when you think the Bright One cannot sink any lower into the journalistic abyss, they cook up this thinly veiled Resurrection/Blagojevich commercial that completely abandons any actual reporting. It is biased and subjective promotion. There is no effort to even allow discussion of All Kids’ myriad shortcomings nor at all question the motives of Resurrection and the various issues it is dealing with.

    But at least with Resurrection and Haymarket, they are doing their jobs. Blago continues to expand a disasterously disfunctional medicaid program simply for political self-congratulations and the Sun-Times is only too eager to join the party.

  31. Pingback Peoria Pundit » Media: More unbiased, objective journalism from the mainstream media - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 1:19 pm:

    […] Kudos to Rich Miler for pointing out two instances in which a members of the MSM demonstrate failed to live up to these lofty goals. […]

  32. - Cheecago - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 1:30 pm:

    Gas card giveaway is smart. For real hutzpah, check out Chicago Public Schools. They are giving away cars to get kids to school.

  33. - steve schnorf - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 2:02 pm:

    btw, the first gov initiative that I remember to take their name off anything was Walker, who changed the highway signs at the state borders to read “the people of Illinois welcome you”

  34. - Sango Dem - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 2:19 pm:

    90% of what you see in the Business section of any paper is advocacy journalism. How often are predictions about the number of jobs created for any given project fact checked? How often are stories nothing but promoting the latest venture of some business without mention of a project’s negative impact?

  35. - zatoichi - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 2:27 pm:

    Can I get a $50 gas card for signing my kids up to BC/BS and staying out of All Kids?

  36. - i'm sure it's been said, but - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 5:29 pm:

    If Blagdictment wants to give folks $50 for siging up; I’d expect him to pay that out of his campaign (legal fund) coffers, not tax payer dollars ?????????????

  37. - cubs are #1 - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 7:09 pm:

    any chance some of those 1200+ new sign ups coul d have just been there to get the $50 and not follow thru on or cancel the insurance?

  38. - Plutocrat03 - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 8:19 pm:

    I like the idea of the Huffington Post coming to the Chicago area.

    Competition is a good thing. The current print media is lifeless and rudderless. If competition from a new entity can bring the Tribune and Sun-Times back to life, that would be a good thing.

    I interpret the plummeting advertising dollars to be something that explains all the depression talk in the print media. Guess what? It not that bad outside of the print media.

    Imagine also the reduction in carbon footprint if we can eliminate the tree cutting, the press operations and the gas hungry delivery system. There will be untold thousands of tons of carbon which will not be released into the atmosphere. Viva the environment!

  39. - Snidely Whiplash - Monday, Jun 23, 08 @ 10:07 pm:

    Grow some cajones, Elvis: give away a gas card with every income tax refund!

  40. - Disgusted - Tuesday, Jun 24, 08 @ 5:47 am:

    Once again, the govenor dips into the budget of Healthcare and Family Services and uses the money for his own publicity. Baram Maram needs to grow some. He has been a lapdog for Blagojevich since day one,probably the reason they appointed a lawyer to run a medical agency, don’t ya think? The Sun-Time should be ashamed for taking part in this blatant self-promotion, all the while knowing that the majority of physicians will not take All Kids patients, since they probably already have been waiting for payments for months and maybe years. I wonder how much Haymarket and Resurrection gave to the on-going Blagojevich campaign. What a farce state government has become.

  41. - Disgusted - Tuesday, Jun 24, 08 @ 5:54 am:

    Just as I thought. Haymarket Group has given thousands in cash and in-kind service to Democratic candidates and the state Democratic organization. (see IL Board of Elections site) But hay (pardon the pun) no quid pro quo here. Just move along.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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