Monday, October 16, 2006

Bad Analogy, Chicago Tribune

I think it took living in D.C. for a couple months to solidify for me just how sensational the Chicago Tribune has gotten. It is still no New York Post or Chicago Sun Times, but it is no Washington Post or New York Times, either. It's no wonder too, given that the Tribune's parent company, the Tribune Company's main priorities seem to be in downsizing the staff as opposed to upgrading the news quality. Although the editorial page is not necessarily an indicator of bad journalism--just look at the disparity between the well-reported news in the Wall Street Journal and its more shrill and often mendacious editorial page, as one example--a look at the Tribune's editorial page may put some perspective on how some of its sensational reporting gets past the bosses.

Take today's endorsement of Tony Peraica for Cook County Board President: the Tribune indicts the "sorry" Cook County government for having a budget of 3.1 billion, saying that it is "bigger than those of many states." This comment is extremely misleading considering that Cook County, with a population of 5,303,683, is in fact bigger than many states. The massive County includes not only the city of Chicago but many of Chicago's suburbs (including my hometown and my university's town). There are 31 states (32, including Puerto Rico) with a population less than Cook County's. Granted, I agree with the Tribune that Todd Stroger appears to be relying on alarmist tactics to beat Tony Peraica, but the paper's editorial page negates its own reliability in analyzing Cook County politics if it cannot avoid such a blatantly simplistic and misleading analogy.


Chris said...
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Chris said...

Ok, I haven't read the Tribune in a few family didn't renew its suscription at some point. However, methinks thou dost protest too much.

They seem to be lamenting, not that the budget is massive, but that the taxes that fund that budget are being squandered by the corrupt officials who control Cook County. "[T]his county government is cheating thousands of impoverished citizens out of better services.

As is, millions of tax dollars that could go to helping people are wasted on slow-mo patronage humps, do-nothing bureaucrats and clout-heavy vendors."

Think of it this way: No one would tolerate one of those 32 state governments that misused its citizens' money in a similar manner, so why should it be tolerated in the, albeit geographically smaller entity of Cook County?? I've lived there all my life and have never really thought about the Cook County government (they have had THAT much influence on my life). It is precisely because the budget is so big, that the citizens of Cook County should take a closer look at the government, or at least think about its existence. Having read more about it, its stench is pretty rotten.

Elaine said...

Upon a second read and perspective from John, I think you are right Chris. I guess I need to calm my ire for the Tribune.