Bad day in the newspaper biz.

I’m linking to this story because you don’t have to register with the Chicago Sun-Times to read it, and because it’s funny, and because it deals rather drolly with what must be a top-fiver of a hell week for editors at the Chicago Tribune. Twice this week, they’ve run photos of “accused mobsters” who turned out to be ordinary citizens. Twice. Ouch.

This isn’t funny, I know, but there’s something about mob names — Joseph “The Clown” Lombardo in one case, Frank “the other, law-abiding one” Calabrese in the other — that’s funny, and at least one of the misidentified taxpayers took it reasonably well. (The other is suing for $2 million. When opportunity knocks, answer the damn door.)

Mostly I’m glad I don’t have to be in that newsroom, where, I guarantee you, many people are really sorry they have to come to work today.

Once in Fort Wayne, during the horrible aftermath of a child abduction/rape/murder, we ran a composite sketch of the man who drove the car the little girl was seen getting into before she disappeared. At the bottom of the page was a feature story on a local store, with a photo of the owner. Who was a dead ringer for the man in the police sketch. We got several phone calls from wiseacres that night — hey, where’s my reward, I found the guy — but if the store proprietor noticed the resemblance, both he and his lawyer were silent about it. Which I think says more about police composite sketches than anything else.

Posted at 9:31 am in Uncategorized |

7 responses to “Bad day in the newspaper biz.”

  1. mary said on April 28, 2005 at 1:02 pm

    I always enjoyed the mob names when there were mob roundups in my home state of NJ. Anthony “Tony Ducks” Carallo was a fave. One can’t say “Tony Ducks” with an NJ accent without sounding like a mobster.

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  2. alex said on April 28, 2005 at 7:18 pm

    May have been a bad day in the newspaper biz, but a great day to be a Chicagoan reading the paper. God I miss the Sun-Times even though Conrad Black made the Op-Ed pages into a kind of retardate’s edition of the National Review. I think it was something inane by Betsey Hart, one of the lesser lights in the pantheon of neocon harpies and right up there with Coulter and Noonan for sheer idiocy, that made me cancel my subscription. I simply started reading the paper online and cutting to the good parts�Michael Sneed, the best gossip columnist anywhere. Mark Brown, Carol Marin, Mary Mitchell, Neil Steinberg�also superb.

    Since moving away from Chi-Town have fallen out of the habit, and for that matter, out of the habit of looking at the little rags here in the Fort that only take five minutes to read anymore because they’re so damned skimpy. For the price of zapping pop-ups, they’re hardly worth it anymore.

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  3. Nance said on April 28, 2005 at 8:19 pm

    Dead-on re: Betsy Hart. She’s proof you don’t need much of anything — talent, skill, an interesting outlook — to be a syndicated columnist these days, at least as long as you’re writing for the underserved, put-upon, discriminated-against right. She’s like a Dr. Laura, only without the psychotic outbursts for entertainment value.

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  4. jeff said on April 29, 2005 at 2:44 pm

    Mike Sneed is the best gossip columnist anywhere?

    What the hell are you smoking? She’s a joke!

    Most of her good stuff is stolen from Page Six.

    She must have some great dirt on all the ST execs to keep her job. It’s obvious thar Cruickshank told her to stop her idiotic columns on the horse slaughterhouse, as she wrote nothing this week, even after the story of wild horses from Nevada taken there and killed.

    The real question is: Why does this woman still have a column?

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  5. alex said on April 29, 2005 at 6:49 pm

    Jeff, please. I’m talking in relative terms, and after O’Malley and Grateau left the Trib, Sneed was the only game in town.

    I had problems with her stuff sometimes, sure. In my opinion she was way too reverential to Betty Loren Maltese and it was obviously for the sake of access.

    What I liked about her was her style, a fairly good balance of snark worked in, even when the subjects were not all that interesting. Always thought she’d be a good model in terms of tone for a gossip column in the Fort Wayne rags, but it’ll never happen here. Our papers are, unfortunately, lapdogs and mouthpieces for this community’s most deserving targets of gossip.

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  6. jeff said on April 30, 2005 at 12:16 am

    Look, I don’t want to get in a flame war, but you wrote this: “Michael Sneed, the best gossip columnist anywhere”.

    Now you’re writing: “I’m talking in relative terms”.

    She makes Ann Gerber look ethical.

    Yeah, she’s snarky, but if you listen to Kathy O’Malley on WGN radio, it’s obvious that she ripped off the snarky from O’Malley.

    No, she just plain sucks for a big city gossip!

    Way too much crap about who ate where.

    Plus her birthday announcements of “ageless”.

    I wish Zorn would go back to printing those people’s real ages.

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  7. alex said on April 30, 2005 at 12:47 am

    What can I say? I’m jonesin’ fer all kindsa crap like bad restaurants too now that I lives out here in the Styx.

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