"To Investigate and Advocate" - Michael Miner - Chicago Reader

"To Investigate and Advocate" - Michael Miner - Chicago Reader

The Better Government Association was in on some of the most exciting investigative reporting of yore. But director Andy Shaw says just exposing wrongdoing is no longer enough.

by: Michael Miner | publication date: July 15, 2010 | Publication: Chicago Reader | journal issue: 15 July 2010 | pages: http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/bga-better-government-association-andy-shaw-watchdogs/Content?oid=2099371

"From 1970, the year I arrived here, through 1976, the Chicago press took ten Pulitzers. Half went to writers and photographers at the Sun-Times, which has won a single Pulitzer (for Jack Higgins's cartoons in 1989) since Rupert Murdoch took over the paper in 1984. The Trib has won four Pulitzers in this century, but only one since 2003. Papers that don't win Pulitzers say they're no way to keep score, but the disdain of Pulitzer judges for papers controlled by Murdoch (and his successors, notably Conrad Black) and Sam Zell is shared by a lot of the Tribune's and Sun-Times's former readers. So many people I know buy only the New York Times that I feel like a bit of a damned fool when I say I subscribe to all three. I know what they're thinking: Well, you have to, it's your job. "Back in the day, the essential Chicago newspaper project was the hard-hitting investigation, naming names and kicking butt. Journalism is never more fun than when the facts are lined up and the presses are about to roll. Unfortunately, in desperate times publishers have awakened to the reality that serious investigations are not only very expensive but of no interest to lots of readers—which means too often we get them quick and cheesy or not at all. . . . "

Miner bemoans the loss to Chicago journalism of the great undercover exposes of earlier years.

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