Formerly-independent weekly calls out Chicago Tribune’s web site

22 04 2008

Oh boy this is a real media convergence! The Chicago Reader, a formerly-independent weekly now owned by Creative Loafing, Inc., published an article by Michael Miner in the April 17th, 2008 issues about out-of-control commenting  on a Chicago Tribune story posted on the Tribune‘s website (here). The story, “Comeback Kid,” is about violinist Rachel Barton Pine who was severly injured by a Metra train in 1995 but has, you know, comback.

Miner says, “not long ago, readers’ reaction to such a story would have been limited to the letters page… but these days newspapers facilitate response that’s fast, furious, and virtually unmediated.” He’s talking about annonymous internet comments!

Annoymous commenters have been slinging insults about Barton Pine, and people are upset! There are 176 comments on the story at the time of posting, varying from “You’re a true inspiration, Rachel,” to one calling her and her husband “bitter, angry, not nice people.”

The Tribune could monitor the comments more, but as Bill Adee (who oversees the Tribune’s web pages) says, “the more oversight there is the more liable you are.” They don’t want to get sued! And as Miner points out, “lively reader forums create the [web] traffic that brings in advertising dollars.”

What is old media going to do about this new media development? I personally find comments to be a contributing factor to my enjoyment of an article or blog post. The Reader probably does too, as there are 22 comments on the story about comments. Online news has become a dialog between the writer and the audience, as well as between audience members themselves, and it shows no signs of moving back to a one-way model.

So, um, leave a COMMENT about what you think about COMMENTS!


Literary Review and Disappearing Newsprint

11 04 2008

from!In last week’s Newcity Magazine (Chicago by Chicagoans!), John Freeman writes about being on the board of the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC). They have a blog! The article is unfortunately not online, but he talks about how “entries pile in by the pallet-full” for their annual book review awards, which makes me feel good about the state of the book market. But he also mentions how book sections in newspapers have been victims of recent cutbacks as “from Los Angeles to Memphis, newspapers slimmed down or picked up more wire copy.” Wire copy? So the news is moving even closer to being all from a single source?? Not good. That means more papers are going to be reading like the Redeye, which gets, by my approximation, 85% of their stories from the wires. At least there are still original voices on the internet.

Anyway, the NBCC picked “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz a their book of the year. Have you read it? It’s on my list at What are your favorite books/book suggestions?

Bringing Back Indie Radio

31 03 2008

04-08_cover_small.jpgUChicago is a pretty sweet magazine. It “takes the sights and sounds of tomorrow and delivers them to Chicago today,” according to their about section. It is independent and Chicago-based and always has awesome cover art. And in their April 2008 issue they covered CHIRP, the Chicago Independent Radio Project. (article here) CHIRP was founded by Shawn Cambell and is working to bring back independent radio stations in the wake of Loyola’s decision to reclaim WLUM (88.7FM), one of the last of the local stations in Chicago. How?

 “To do so, we need to get a bill, the Local Community Radio Act, through Congress,” Campbell says. LPFM, or low power FM broadcasting, is the goal. It’s low-power, low-cost broadcasting for smaller communities and offers a chance for different, local voices to be heard.     

 If anyone else is tired of listening to Rihanna 24/7, Buddha knows I am, this is a great thing to hear! Clear Channel is slowly destroying a casual music fan’s chance of ever hearing something that hasn’t been created by a marketing campaign backed by millions of dollars. Chicago’s a really cool place and I’m tired of it being treated like just another fly-over city. Bringing back indie radio is just one way we can keep our unique vibe. So fight for it! And check out Music Evangelism too!

“5-Inch Knife”

27 03 2008


The RedEye, the “trib sib” with the largest circulation numbers in Chicago, has taken their “concise and authentic” reporting to new levels, specifically the concise part. The Nation section, one of the scant spots of actual news in the publication, has unveiled a new format this week. My favorite part is where they highlight the most important words in their already less-that-30-word descriptions of news happening around the nation. It says, if you can’t read the text from my amazing camera shot:


A young man wielding a 5-inch knife stabbed four people to death Tuesday in Sitka, Alaska, before officers subdued him with a stun gun, police said”

In this example, they’re clearly NOT trying to sensationalize the news, right? However, they really do know their readers since that’s about all I had time to read this morning on the train in between my hangover and class.

Because Foie Gras is Already Against the Law

28 02 2008

Chris LaMorte (check him out on Facebook) wrote an article about a new plague in Chicago. No, nothing serious, just frogs. In restaurants. Anyway, he sure can pack the references to pop culture and Chicago subcultures pretty densely:

“Well it’s not a plague exactly, but frogs definitely seem to be having their moment. They’ve hopped onto menus at the most unlikely places –i.e. Soiree, a new DePaul-area cocktail lounge where they pair nicely with, you know, vodka-Red Bulls. Now scientists report that bullfrogs are good for you –they contain some sort of anti-aging molecule. Expect Janice Dickinson to be eating them Jabba-the-Hutt style.

So what’s a frogophobe like me to do? Thanks to Anthony “I ate the still-beating heart of a cobra” Bourdain, food writers are supposed to fearlessly chomp anything unfortunate enough to be lower on the food chain.”

LaMorte also somehow works in a reference to wine that “effervesces in the mouth like Alka-Seltzer in soda” and mostaccioli. And I learned that is how to spell mostaccioli despite my spell check’s scary red line.

“Do You Carry Kumquats?”

28 02 2008

Jason Steele writes the column “Boy on Boystown” weekly for the Redeye, taking the space to tackle very pertinent issues in and about Chicago’s very own gayborhood. Such diversity! This week the always-insightful Boy of Steele talks about how his gaydar was on the fritz. He had a “misinterpregaytion”! He was forced to deal with his own “shock” when a friend who lives in Wrigleyville and is a “big sports nut” talked about dumping his ex-boyfriend. No! Gays can like sports????!?

But while we’re busy not dealing in stereotypes, Jason leaves us with this gem about a fellow at Whole Foods asking about kumquats: “My gaydar determined he wasn’t gay; he just thought I worked there. But even if he isn’t gay, his produce sure is.”

So, tiny oranges=gay. We’ll add that to our list of Things That Are Gay, right after saying goodnight to your roommate. Thanks, Jason!

Redeye’s Redhot Redhorrible

20 02 2008

Anyone who picks up a copy of the Redeye, the Chicago Tribune’s “concise and authentic” free daily paper, is bound to be blown away by the amazing wit found in the Redhot headlines on the back page. My favorite today: “She’s Helping Out,”(halfway down the linked page) accompanying a story about singer Rihanna‘s turn as a “bone marrow awareness advocate” as reported by the AP. She’s helping out? Who? How? I’m glad that headline was informative and attention grabbing. Is that even a pun? Maybe it’s a play on one of her songs and resonates with serious Rihanna fans. The only way that could resonate with me is if it ended in -ella -eh -eh -eh. As for this headline? Eh.