Even for the usual terrific reporting from the Reader, this recent issue (Jul. 8, 2010) produced three stories that floored me. They are important works on their own; taken together, they are a remarkable portrait of our city, how it “works,” and why it doesn’t.
The first story comes from Michael Miner. Conroy on Burge begins as analysis of the Jon Burge sentencing from John Conroy, the former Reader reporter who covered the case starting back in the early 90’s when Burge was fired. Miner pulls his lens back, though, and the story becomes the tale of print journalism’s decline: here is Burge, found guilty on all counts against him, and here is Conroy, the man whose dogged reporting kept the spotlight on the case for two decades. And here is the Reader, covering the conviction, and the man whose name should be on the byline is, instead, part of the story. Miner does a wonderful job of showing us the whole picture: why Burge matters, why Conroy mattered, and why they both ended up at undesirable finish lines.
The next two stories come from Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke, the pair responsible for the paper’s brilliant coverage of the city’s TIF program. Joravsky’s piece is Huberman’s Miracle, another heads up to city teachers about what kind of game the city is running in the education business.
Dumke’s cover story Under the Gun details Mayor Daley’s new anti-gun law (the “Responsible Gun Ownership” ordinance) that the mayor pushed Aldermen to sign after the Supreme Court ruled against Daley’s earlier handgun ban. Gun violence is always in the news; this week we saw the Oscar Grant verdict, the Thor Soderberg killing (the cop killed with his own gun), and a report on Chicago gun deaths in the first half of the year… not to mention SO MANY stories that I have not heard or not listed. Dumke’s story is another fine example of how Little Daley runs “his” city.