Our Increasingly Irrelevant Incumbent Newspapers and The Chicago Tea Party
Walking to lunch yesterday, I stopped by Daley Plaza to check out the Official Chicago Tea Party, an event organized on Facebook (remember when Obama was the “Facebook” candidate?) to protest the reckless spending plans hatching regularly in Washington. Inspired by CNBC’s Rick Santelli memorable plea in opponsition to the mortgage bailout, the Tea Party was a quickly put together group taking their protest to the streets of Chicago.
Tony Peraica announced “Now the Chicago Daily Observer is here, the protest can begin” which generously overstates what little organization we (or any other organization) put in to the event, as this truly was a grass roots happening. This was certainly not much of a scripted protest, with home made signs, some 1776 era “tea party” costumes, and mainly people taking a long lunch dressed in business suits marching from Daley Plaza to the Tribune Plaza in very cold wet weather. I took the diversion from lunch to walk along with Dan Proft, who was ultimately one of the speakers challenging Illinois voters to get more involved in politics.
All-in-all it was a well behaved group, genuinely concerned with the swarms of government programs and fixes being lauchned by the Obama administration. There were 300 people at my count early on, probably up to 500 at the height of the march. There were plenty of honks, waves, cheers and a few jeers from passers by, and a rather quiet series of exhortations via a bullhorn from a few folks leading the way.
Good enough event, with plenty of cameras, microphones, pleasant policemen, and a bit of a disruption to the Loop for an hour or so. So this morning when I looked in the SunTimes and Tribune, I expected at least a rudimentary nod to the protest. Seeing nothing, I checked with one of the cdobs.com web developers, who also saw nothing.
But in the blogs
1) Backyard Conservative (Blogger Anne Leary was one of the Rally Leaders)
4) A Chicago Blog (CDOBS team member Mike Van Winkle)
Only last Sunday, many great minds from the Tribune and Sun Times held a town hall where our incumbent scribblers harmonized over the woes and complexities of journalism. What seems evident to me is that politically motivated editorial decisions, such as the the blackout of the Chicago Tea Party, have reduced the utility of the two major papers. When around 400 people are right outside the windows of the Tribune shouting at the top of their lungs about a contentious political issue, one might think that the paper of record would see fit to cover it.
John Powers is the President of the Chicago Daily Observer.