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The Daily Herald on Proft papers fiasco: “We’re sorry this has resulted in challenges to our staff’s integrity”

Monday, Oct 3, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Background on the Daily Herald dropping the printing and mailing of the Proft Papers is here if you need it. Here’s the Daily Herald Editorial Board’s open letter to its staff on the controversy

We did not foresee this attack on our reputation. We found ourselves in the eye of the political firestorm between Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his Republican opponent, Darren Bailey. The Daily Herald had become the story, and that wasn’t fair to Daily Herald reporters, editors and fellow staffers throughout Paddock Publications. We’re sorry this has resulted in challenges to our staff’s integrity.

As a result, the company will no longer accept print jobs from LGIS, but we will defend the reputation of the Daily Herald and our commitment to journalism and to the communities and readers we serve.[…]

We plan to take several steps to strengthen the harmony among Paddock Publications various business objectives.

Among them:

    • Formalize a screening process for commercial printing projects and sensitive advertising. We are appointing a team tasked with identifying print job proposals and advertising that may be sensitive or controversial and then reviewing those for acceptance, rejection or modification. The litmus test for these reviews will for the most part be transparency and factualness. Outside of extremism that would conflict with our values and reflect poorly on the company, the point is not to arbitrarily reject points of view. The right to free expression is a central value that our company endorses. But it is to ensure any print jobs and advertising meet certain fundamental standards. Screening team members also will familiarize themselves with ongoing products so we have enough information to challenge them when necessary or defend them when unfairly questioned.

There’s more.

* Chicago Block Club reported on the mailers

Nancy Wade, who lives in Lincoln Square, said finding the unsolicited publication in her mailbox made her livid.

“The tabloids aren’t as bad as this. It’s all misleading. If you don’t know much about any of these issues, and this is the first information you ever see, naturally I’d be worried, too,” Wade said. “They are like yelling at you from the page.” […]

“I don’t call them newspapers for a very good reason,” said Don Craven, president of the Springfield-based Illinois Press Association. “They’re not.”

Craven said that neither the Chicago City Wire, nor any of the other 34 Local Government Information Services publications across Illinois are members of the press association, or have applied for membership.

* Center for Illinois Politics

It seems that a new phenomenon is taking hold with phony newspapers being sent to homes across Illinois. The goal of these publications is to confuse and fool people into believing they are reading news when in fact they are reading biased reporting that’s politically driven.

An example is Lake County Gazette, one of 34 publications, 11 of which are in print, published by Local Government Information Services (LGIS). The news outlet has seen steady growth since it was established in 2018. Other titles include Chicago City Wire, McHenry Times, North Cook News, and Sangamon Sun.

These publications are not traditional news, but are in fact hyper-partisan ventures engaged in media manipulation to advance the publishers’ agenda.

A Shaw News article recently reported, “They are drawing attention – including from Gov. JB Pritzker – for being politically charged and containing right-wing talking points just a couple months before the November election.”

* The Democratic Party of Illinois is warning voters about the papers…

* Crain’s Editorial Board commented last month on the Daily Herald’s apology to its readers

“Many critics cannot or refuse to differentiate between a commercial printing operation . . . and the Daily Herald’s editorial mission to be unbiased and fair,” the letter states, without addressing the still-unanswered question of whether LGIS mailed these materials on Paddock’s dime. “The perception for some has become that the Daily Herald favors one party over another and by printing for LGIS, it’s somehow promoting its message. That is not true.”

Actually, producing and apparently providing postage for this stuff is pretty much the definition of promoting this message. And, to be clear, the look would be just as bad if Paddock had printed and lent its postal permit to sham newspapers that amounted to unlabeled ads for Pritzker or Lightfoot.

We’re not talking about slick pamphlets, brochures or posters here—the kind of material that voters are accustomed to finding in their mailboxes, stuck into their doorjambs or pressed into their hands as they run for the train during campaign season. We’re talking about deceptively designed mailers that are clearly meant to simulate newspapers—printed and evidently distributed by a company that, however inconveniently in this case, happens to be in the news business.

That juxtaposition is a particularly unhelpful one for the entire profession as journalists try to do what they do against challenging headwinds. Real journalists ask tough questions, hold power to account, correct the record when they get things wrong, and report only what they know—based on honest reporting and clear-eyed analysis—to be true. Journalism is a public trust. And as “The Journalist’s Creed,” a time-honored declaration first published by the Missouri School of Journalism more than a century ago, puts it: “Acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is a betrayal of this trust.”

What do you think about the Herald’s continued damage control?

…Adding… Walker’s comment…

What damaged DH credibility was not the political squabble between candidates, but rather association with a perverse undercutting of the expectations the public has of established newspapers.

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  1. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 12:51 pm:

    For something that Paddock tried to claim was not a big deal, it sure looks like it is a big deal internally.

  2. - Amalia - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 12:56 pm:

    well, good, doing better going forward. but damage done. printing those very biased pieces as if they are newspapers has created credibility for the names of them. and now, as Proft seems to be turning to extreme push on Facebook…I’m suddenly seeing LOTS of his “papers” on there….the role of the DH is heightened in the original mistake.

  3. - TheInvisibleMan - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 12:56 pm:

    –strengthen the harmony among Paddock Publications various business objectives.–

    They still do not understand what has happened.

  4. - Banish Misfortune - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 12:57 pm:

    Reads like we’re really sorry we got caught because it’s causing problems for us.

  5. - vern - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 12:58 pm:

    I don’t think much of it. The real problem here was never the political element, it was the newspaper element. Daily Herald didn’t mess up by “picking sides,” they messed up by facilitating the undermining of their core product. It’s equivalent to a hospital helping promote crystal healing or Disney hosting a movie pirating site. One mission of LGIS is to destroy the Daily Herald. Working with them doesn’t make them look partisan. It makes them look too stupid to run a newspaper.

  6. - George Ryan Reynolds - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:06 pm:

    “We did not foresee this attack on our reputation.”

    They still don’t get it. They still think they’re the victims in all this. With the one hand, they’re holding workshops in the fight against fake news (admirable). With the other, they’re printing and mailing the very fake news the other hand is decrying (hypocritically profiting). This is not that hard.

  7. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:09 pm:

    If you are playing the victim on ethics when your own ethics were to undermine the paper’s integrity… this is a C+ continued damage control.

    It wasn’t “awful”, but it was more about being angered that they were called on being ethically challenged for a dollar.

    There’s a big stain. Time may make this whole, not words.

  8. - Manchester - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:09 pm:

    To put it succinctly - not much. They’re just sorry they got caught and lost their cash cow.

  9. - Must win - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:16 pm:

    I think this issue has rin its course.
    Maybe focus on real issues in the state and campaigns?

  10. - MisterJayEm - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:17 pm:

    “We found ourselves in the eye of the political firestorm between Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his Republican opponent, Darren Bailey.”

    My high-school journalism teacher would have read this far and given them a “D” for using passive language.

    Paddock “found themselves” in the midst of this mess in much the same way that a fella will sometimes wake up and “find himself” in the driver’s seat of a stolen car, surrounded by drug paraphernalia and empty liquor bottles.

    Make better choices, Paddock.

    – MrJM

  11. - Rich Miller - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:17 pm:

    ===has rin its course===

    Not according to the Daily Herald.

  12. - vern - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:19 pm:

    === lost their cash cow.===

    I’m very skeptical of this argument. They were getting paid normal rates to print and mail pamphlets whose message was basically “Do Not Read The Daily Herald.” That’s not an amoral profit decision. That’s getting scammed by your enemy.

  13. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:19 pm:

    ===I think this issue has…===

    … people question the ethics and integrity of the whole paper, putting a stain on the work the newspaper folks do

    Ethics is an everyday thing, not a “runs its course” thingy.

    If one lacks ethics, then it’s definitely a thing you’d like to end discussing.

  14. - Walker - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:22 pm:

    What damaged DH credibility was not the political squabble between candidates, but rather association with a perverse undercutting of the expectations the public has of established newspapers.

  15. - Groucho - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:23 pm:

    If I received one of these newspaper like mailings I never would have looked at the bulk mail label and if I did I still would never have tied the Daily Herald to Padock. I would bet most people are like me and would not put this puzzle together.

    I see this story as being a whole heck about nothing. A private business takes on a printing and mailing job. Never is it portrayed or identified as being in any way related to the Daily Herald. I no more blame the Daily Herald for this mailing than I would United Postal Service because one of their mail carriers delivered it to peoples mail boxes.

    Lastly, regarding the mailings format, this not the first time I have seen this style. It used be common for Aldermen to send mailing that looked like newspapers with names 52nd Ward News etc…

    I still trust the Daily Herald.

  16. - Cricket - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:24 pm:

    It is sad and disturbing that the Editorial Board doesn’t get why Paddock’s behavior was so appalling or is still trying to cover it up. Putting the blame on Pritzker is appalling.

  17. - Donnie Elgin - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:25 pm:

    DH should have stuck to the original narrative - they were providing a printing service plain and simple. They said they do not condone/endorse any print job. Now they flip-flopped and are subjectively deciding what materials to print…
    “no longer accept print jobs from LGIS”.

  18. - MisterJayEm - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:27 pm:

    “Maybe focus on real issues in the state and campaigns?”

    This will go away just as soon as Paddock shows that they know 1) what they did wrong, and 2) why it was wrong.

    “Oh shucks ya got us” ain’t it.

    – MrJM

  19. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:30 pm:

    ===DH should have stuck to the original narrative - they were providing a printing service plain and simple.===

    You only do that if you lack ethics to news, and your news organization doesn’t care about integrity.

    If you lack both, it’s plain and simple that you just do print jobs.

  20. - Big Dipper - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:33 pm:

    Translation: We did nothing wrong and only stopped doing it because unfair folks won’t shut up about it.

  21. - west wing - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:39 pm:

    These newspapers, in the dozens downstate, are most effective in communities suffering most from local newspapers going out of business which makes - in some cases - the phony Timpone newspapers the only ones in circulation.

  22. - Curious citizen - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:54 pm:

    It’s kinda nice to see that they’ve now decided they need a screening process for print jobs.

  23. - Jocko - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 1:57 pm:

    ==We did not foresee this attack on our reputation.==

    I believe this is called the Penn State response.

  24. - Jerry - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 2:07 pm:

    @misterjayem: I agree. PR 101 is being out in front of the message which the Daily Herald didnt do. Now they have to backtrack which draws more light to the subject. One of the best examples of PR 101 was the Tylenol poisonings years ago but also the shootings at NIU. Worst example? Look at a certain original six national hockey league team located nearby.

  25. - Moe Berg - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 2:11 pm:

    Paddock/DH has not apologized. So fascinating that a company whose newspaper editorial board waves its moral finger this way and that on any number of topics, calls out what it believes to be wrongdoing, and pronounces who is fit or unfit to hold office can’t just do the same for itself, own the serious mistake and say it plainly:

    “For the sake of money we made a grievous error and betrayed the values we claim to defend. We are truly sorry to have let our readers down. We will do everything we can to regain your trust and make sure something like this never happens again.”

  26. - Siualum - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 2:12 pm:

    What I read is that they’re sorry for the outcome, but not the act(of publishing, mailing).

  27. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 2:19 pm:

    Walker is an elected Democrat running for re-election.

    Of course he doesn’t like partisan mailers that attack the Democrats.

    He supports the mailers that target Republicans

  28. - Michelle Flaherty - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 2:27 pm:

    I’d like to know who signed off on the Proft printing deal. In all of these half-apologies/non-apologies, no one has stepped forward to say, I’m responsible, I made the mistake, I’m sorry and here’s what’s going to change so this doesn’t happen again.

    We’ve got a group of spineless execs who are hoping this blows over so they can keep their jobs and not have to try to find real work with the stain of having printed fake news on their resumes.

  29. - Jibba - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 2:40 pm:

    I gotta say, that statement by DH really needs a good editing. They could have that done in house as well.

  30. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 2:47 pm:

    ===Of course he doesn’t like partisan mailers===

    Wait, didn’t you say the Proft newspapers were… newspapers.

    Now they are… partisan mailers?

    Which is it?


  31. - Amalia - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 2:50 pm:

    Jocko for the win.

  32. - Joe Bidenopolous - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 3:32 pm:

    What do I think of their response? Not much. The first two sentences in their statement is a good place to start:

    “We did not foresee this attack on our reputation.”

    This is incompetence.

    “We found ourselves in the eye of the political firestorm between Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his Republican opponent, Darren Bailey.”

    Uh, no. You made a choice and now that choice has consequences. That’s how you uh, “found yourselves” there. Because of your choices.

    But it figures that the Daily Herald, knowing what we know now, would take up the Republican mantle of “nothing is ever our fault ever, even if we made the choices, it’s someone else’s fault.”

    Shaggy would be proud

  33. - Boone's is Back - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 3:33 pm:

    I’m not sure how this helps the Daily Herald. Doesn’t sound like much of a mea culpa.

  34. - MikeMacD - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 3:43 pm:

    “They will sell you the rope…”

  35. - Annonin' - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 4:06 pm:

    No one seems ask about the use of their postal permit which gives a special price and delivery priorities or why the spending is not reported to ISBE. Still more questions

  36. - XonXoff - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 4:21 pm:

    == What do you think about the Herald’s continued damage control? ==

    It’s impossible for me to say because I literaly stopped reading after “We did not foresee this attack on our reputation. We found ourselves in the eye of the political firestorm between Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his Republican opponent, Darren Bailey.”

    But that’s on me. Maybe the rest was by great.

  37. - Wensicia - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 4:22 pm:

    We started receiving the weekly Lake County Gazette about a month ago. It’s full of far-right propaganda and lies. From the printed address label, I believe they pulled our names from voter registration data. The layout and type of paper used is identical to legit newspapers.

  38. - Dom - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 4:37 pm:

    The damage control will stop the day after the election. Because that’s when the “outrage” will stop.

  39. - Rich Miller - Monday, Oct 3, 22 @ 4:40 pm:


    You really are clueless.

  40. - Vote Quimby - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 8:28 am:

    It bothers me most that politicians of a certain stripe will lament about the “fake news,” while simultaneously publishing actual “fake news” trying to imitate “real news.”

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