LETTERS

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April 21, 2006

Letter to the Editor

Chicago Weekly

In his rambling column, “Chicago Weekly: Ethical Journalism Needed,” on 4/18/06, Andrew Hammond uses one or two semi-relevant facts and a good deal of speculation to argue, without success, that the Chicago Weekly is an unethical work of journalism.

It was certainly a lapse of judgment for the Weekly to publish a photo of its Editor in Chief on the cover. However, as Hammond points out, there may well have been mitigating circumstances that forced them to do so. But then he assumes—without bothering to investigate further and actually discover why the Weekly published the photo—that the Weekly must not have had a good reason, and therefore, that they are unethical. That in itself—criticism based on speculation—is poor journalism.

Hammond’s more serious concern is that the Weekly’s self-proclaimed status as an “independent student voice” is negated by the fact that the Weekly is owned by Newcity. He points out, correctly, that newspapers are at their most vibrant when completely independent. But the Weekly is not alone among newspapers in being controlled by a larger organization—indeed, it’s in the majority, with most American newspapers being owned by holding companies such as Gannett or the late Knight-Ridder. The free Chicago weeklies Red Eye and Red Streak, for example, are owned by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, respectively, which themselves are owned by the Tribune Company and the Hollinger Corporation, respectively. And if the Maroon can operate out of the basement of a University building and still call itself an “independent student newspaper,” certainly the Weekly can be owned by Newcity and call itself an “independent voice.”

Finally, Hammond is quite upset that the Weekly is only four pages long. He oscillates between wanting the Weekly to be a direct competitor to the Maroon—a frequently published, comprehensive account of campus news and forum for discussion of campus issues—and realizing that it’s a niche publication. But he rejects the latter theory because he has been “unable to find the niche.” Well, to me, the niche is quite clear—the Chicago Weekly is a forum for offbeat personal essays and stories about life at the University of Chicago.

It’s not a hard-hitting investigative broadsheet whose every move must be questioned as much as it questions everyone else’s moves. It could be improved, but I still look forward to picking up my copy of it every week.

Likewise for the Maroon.

Andrew Alexander

First-year in the College

Maroon news staff