Why are Chicago media failing us on Jackson?
Jesse Jackson Jr.
Robservations on the media beat:
- It’s the summer’s biggest mystery: Jesse Jackson Jr., a nine-term U.S. congressman and one of the most prominent political figures in Chicago, has been missing in action since early June. As of this writing, all that’s known for sure is that he’s on medical leave for an undisclosed condition in an undisclosed location. How is it that no one has come up with the scoop? With all the political experts, investigative reporters, gossip columnists and assorted pundits and bloggers around, not one has the connections to find out where Jackson is or what’s wrong with him? (If one of them does know and isn’t reporting it, that’s even worse.) For years the knock on Chicago media — print and broadcast — was that it was too eager to do the Jackson family’s bidding. (How else to explain the continued presence of Jesse Jackson Sr. as a Sun-Times columnist? Or his power to broker contracts for on-air talent?) But what good is that cozy relationship when the family can blatantly stiff-arm journalists’ questions and engage in a conspiracy of silence at a time like this? Granted, the ultimate responsibility is on Jesse Jackson Jr. to level with his constituents and his colleagues. But the longer the truth about him goes unreported, the worse it’s looking for Chicago’s vaunted news media, too.
- It’s official: Don Cornelius will be inducted in the Illinois Broadcasters Association’s Hall of Fame on August 17 — exactly 42 years after Soul Train debuted from studios in Chicago. Cornelius learned of his Hall of Fame selection just days before he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound February 1 at age 75. “Sadly, our previously planned 2012 induction of Mr. Cornelius will now be a posthumous induction,” Dennis Lyle, president and CEO of the Illinois Broadcasters Association, said in a statement. “That said, his well-deserved induction allows us to formally recognize the genius behind Soul Train and celebrate his countless contributions to our industry.” A native of Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, Cornelius began his career in radio on the Chess Brothers’ original WVON before joining Weigel Broadcasting’s WCIU-Channel 26, where he launched Soul Train in 1970. The induction in Chicago will be open only to IBA members and their guests.
- Veteran Sun-Times columnist Steve Huntley is moving to Austin, Texas, where he and his wife have family. But he’ll continue as a freelance columnist for the paper, where he previously worked as a reporter, assistant managing editor and editorial page editor. “I've been associated with the paper for 26 years and it's an important part of my life,” Huntley told me. “So I'm happy to keep that going as long as they want me to and as long as I think I have something to say.”
- On the heels of a survey by Alan Burns and Associates that more women are waking up to smartphones instead of clock radios comes word of the ABC 7 Chicago Alarm Clock, a new app for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. The free product offers a variety of wake-up tones, including custom tracks from ABC 7 morning news personalities Hosea Sanders, Judy Hsu, Tracy Butler and Roz Varon. “Our alarm clock app gives Chicagoans a jump on their day by enabling them to instantly access ABC 7 news content,” John Idler, president and general manager of ABC 7, said in a statement. “The response has been terrific with thousands of users already taking advantage of the new app and more of them downloading it every day.”
- Amazing doesn’t begin to describe Bob Greenberg, who worked as a sportscaster for Chicago Public Media WBEZ-FM (91.5) from 1975 to 1990 — and later for a variety of other radio stations — despite his blindness since early childhood. He died of cancer Monday in Williamsburg, Virginia, at 67. “Many people who heard him never knew of his disability,” said Marty Zivin, who carried Greenberg’s Saturday morning sports report on Zecom Radio for the past seven years. “He had a studio in his home along with satellite dishes in the backyard. He would listen to several ballgames simultaneously.” In an affectionate tribute to Greenberg, SRN Broadcasting’s Steve Leventhal wrote: “Bob always fought for what he believed in, even if it took theatrics sometimes to make his point.”