Thursday, March 14, 2013

What becometh our Chicago Tribune?

It will be intriguing to see what becomes of the Chicago Tribune, the newspaper that likes to think of itself as the voice of the Midwestern U.S. yet at times isn’t even the most important newspaper in Chicago.

How long until all the slots are filled with the same publication?

There are just too many people in our city who want nothing to do with the Tribune and its particular worldview for it to be the all-dominant creature that it believes itself to be. Although certain others swear by it (and sometimes at it, which makes it a part of Chicago's inherent character).

WHICH IS WHY it would be particularly amusing if there turns out to be some truth to the notions being spread about that Wrapports, Inc. (the current owners of the Chicago Sun-Times) wants to buy “Mother Tribune.”

Wouldn’t it be a kick if the Great Chicago Newspaper War ultimately was won by the Sun-Times? After all the generations of talk by Chicagoans that the Tribune (and its broadcast properties) were the great elephant in the realm of Chicago news creatures, the dinky (I mean that literally these days) Sun-Times prevails.

It’s just too bad that the tug boat-like building along the Chicago River is no longer their headquarters. The irony of that architecturally challenging (yet appealing in its own warped way) structure prevailing over the gothic Tribune Tower would just be too much.

Although on another level, a Sun-Times-related purchase would be completely depressing. That company has managed to take over so many of the local newspapers and turn them into a homogenous mass that it feels like there’s hardly any “press” left.

A CHICAGO-AREA MEDIA that consists of a Sun-Times/Tribune conglomerate, the Daily Herald of suburban Arlington Heights and the Munster, Ind.-based Times of Northwest Indiana sounds so miniscule.

Yet the latest rumor in the mill talks of the Koch brothers – those ideologues who like to use their money to try to impose a conservative bias upon all of us living in this society.

Supposedly, the brothers would like to have a few major newspapers with which to put their spin on the news reports we all consume.

We’ll all be reading the reports in coming weeks speculating about how the Kochs will restore the days of Col. McCormick – who until his death in 1955 was more than willing to use the pages of the Tribune to take on all his political enemies (who were numerous).

LEAVE IT TO them, and the Tribune will become the great enemy of President Barack Obama (even though the newspaper actually endorsed him in both presidential election cycles).

Now I realize the brothers have put out a statement that declines to comment about the possibility of their purchase. Although the tone of the statement in the LA Weekly newspaper is more along the lines of a couple of egomaniacs enjoying the attention without wanting to say anything.

So anything could happen, I suppose. We might get the Kochs. Or the Sun-Times crew becomes all-powerful in their efforts to turn the news reports into SPLASH, GRID, a daily Carol Marin video and the Jenny McCarthy we can endure in print!

It became known that billionaire Warren Buffett is NOT interested in including the Chicago Tribune in his splurge to develop a media “empire” across the country – largely because he doesn’t like the idea that the Tribune people are insisting on selling all their publications in one shot rather than splitting them up amongst local ownership.

NOT THAT I'M saying he's some sort of savior. If anything, he wants the publications in smaller-scale communities where no one expects the same type of investment in the product that is required to make a major metro daily paper worth reading.
MURDOCH: A 'journalistic' savior?
But when one looks at the possibility of ideologues or trivialogues taking over the one-time World’s Greatest Newspaper, I have to confess that the rumors having Rupert Murdoch come back to Chicago a quarter of a century after he sold his interests in the Sun-Times don’t sound quite so awful. At least he's devoted a life-time to the printed word; no matter how cheesily his publications have displayed it.

Rupert Murdoch as the “savior” of Chicago journalism?!? Who’d have ever thought it possible!


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