And Who Else Is Watching Big Media?

And Who Else Is Watching Big Media?
By RAY HANANIA • Friday, July 06, 2012
Southwest News-Herald
I have a question that no one in the news media wants to answer. Who is watching big media like the Chicago Tribune, which often acts like an unregistered political lobbyist?

It’s not easy to get information on the big media because they are privately owned. Yet, this “private” corporation has business tentacles across many industries, and directly and indirectly receives taxpayer funds in the form of tax breaks and government-paid advertising.

If you don’t advertise in the Chicago Tribune, you become their target and get clobbered. If you don’t cooperate with them, you’re placed on their blacklist targeting politicians, governments, their associates and their communities.

It’s an old journalism trick the Tribune refined, and a jigsaw puzzle of enormous proportions. By hammering the communities that the elected officials they dislike represent, the Tribune stirs up anger against the local governments.

Just look at the Tribune’s record:

The Tribune filed bankruptcy in 2008 after trying unsuccessfully to boost its sagging ratings at its media, entertainment and professional sports interests. Imagine the Tribune lecturing any government on financial matters?

The Tribune is a privately held company yet it benefits from government by receiving tax breaks, investment interests and advertising.

The Tribune anger goes way back to the battle over lights at Wrigley Field when House Speaker Michael J. Madigan stood by Senator John Cullerton and the community to oppose the lights.

It continued in 2008 as the Tribune started collapsing into bankruptcy. The Tribune wanted $100 million in tax breaks for its failed sports team, the Cubs. The Trib sold the Cubs when it couldn’t get what it needed, and turned up its wrath against members of the Illinois Legislature who fought their demands, targeting House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, both directly and indirectly.

It’s been a libel campaign of distortions and political tricks.

When the Trib couldn’t undermine Madigan, they bashed his “neighborhood,” the Southwest Side and Suburbs, hammered his political allies and criticized public works projects, stadiums and even Midway Airport in misleading and one-sided columns, editorials and news reporting.

Tribune’s reporters sarcastically refer to the Southwest Suburbs and Southwest Side as “Madigan-ville.”

The newspaper has used its reporters to lobby legislators by pushing to direct funds through carefully written editorials, newspaper exposes and feature stories, to suburban communities in the North and Northwest suburbs.

The Tribune has attacked every major project for the Southwest Side and Southwest Suburbs, from Midway Airport to Toyota Park, to road improvements and even discrediting projects like the Crosstown Expressway.

But, when it comes to the businesses and governments that buy full page ads in their newspaper (at $95,000 a page) and politicians who have sided with their demands for taxpayer funded Handouts, the Trib doesn’t hesitate to turn a blind eye to public scams, like when the Tribune backed the bailout of Sears in Hoffman Estates, or write fluff features on their political friends who do their bidding in Springfield.

Why target a community? To undermine the local officials the increasingly ethics-challenged Tribune dislikes. No organization monitors lobbying on behalf of Chicago Tribune interests, but someone should.

Until that happens, every resident of the Southwest Side and Suburbs should recognize their subscriptions become editorial bullets that undermine our communities, our businesses and our political leaders.

The Tribune will make anyone look bad, especially those who don’t cow-tow to their demands. And why not? No one is watching the newspaper robber barons.

(Join Ray Hanania on radio Sunday morning to discuss this topic. — City & Suburban News-Herald

Categories: Chicagoland Topics

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