I remember when the Chicago Tribune was a serious and real newspaper. I remember scouring for it on specialty newsstands in Canada and grabbing a copy whenever I visited the Windy City, which, truth be told, is one of my favourite cities in the world, and yes, I have no trouble walking down the streets after midnight for a stroll down Michigan Avenue or Wabash Avenue with no worries. Even though I am an author and art teacher, people used to think I had to be some sort of plain clothes police officer, and told me as much.
But watching the Tribune collapse is distressing. The newsroom is being decimated, and instead of doing real things, the double-speaking in this same newsroom explains exactly why the Tribune collapsed this horrifically.
Publisher and editor-in-chief Bruce Dold has to have broken some record on spewing meaningless and empty phrases, and in a profession that is supposed to expose that kind of babble-spew to find out what is reality and truth, it should surprise no one why the Tribune weakened the way it has:
This process has fostered hundreds of productive conversations about our future…We understand it has also led to feelings of uncertainty.
“Productive conversations”? If the collapse of journalism happened, there was no productive conversation. It’s like the kid in the toy store wanting a present, and cash-strap mom says, “Put it on your list to Santa, buddy.” You could call that a “productive conversation,” but the kid is not going to get anything at all.
But Dold keeps the empty phrases rolling:
We are and will continue to be the most accomplished and impactful news organization in Chicago. We are and will continue to be a mission-driven and audience-driven news organization. We will shape the future of the Chicago Tribune together.
How is that possible when circulation is declining and people are losing their jobs? If you were an “audience-driven” news organization, your audiences wouldn’t be abandoning your product. Nice try.
And instead of pandering, how about trying to be a “fact-driven” media outlet?
But the doublespeak never ends with the window-dressing:
Scott Powers will continue to be a vital part of the leadership team as deputy editor overseeing the entertainment group.
Jonathon Berlin will lead our team focused on digital design and data visualization as the director of content, interactive news design. This team, in addition to creating engaging interactive elements and compelling digital designs, will work closely with the home page team on the Arc rollout.
Who talks like that?
The ad copy parading as a memo goes on in painful vague detail:
Dan Haar and Matt O’Connor will lead a team that covers criminal justice around the clock with breaking-news speed, with a focus on public safety issues that have a profound impact on our quality of life. This desk will continue to report on the reform of the Chicago Police Department, an area in which this newsroom has been a leader.
Our watchdog team will expand as the Public Interest Investigations group under George Papajohn and Kaarin Tisue. Eric Krol, a talented editor and wordsmith who has grown adept at running investigative stories, will join this team.
But the best drivel comes here:
Lisa Donovan and Liam Ford will lead a new Quick Response Team, which will pursue with vigor the emerging story or stories of the day. The Quick Response Team will primarily focus on non-crime topics.
“Quick Response Team”? What are you? Paramedics? Emergency room doctors? Police officers? Soldiers? SWAT? Suicide prevention workers? No, you’re pretending to be journalists: you are supposed to cover breaking news. This isn’t supposed to be a bureaucracy.
No wonder the Tribune became a shadow of its former self. It became the grifters they were supposed to expose.
The core doesn’t change. The methods don’t change. What changes are a few titles with a smaller staff to boss around. This is why journalism is no longer a thing — because the people in charge have no idea why they are there — or what the hell they are doing…