The Tribune — where more than 50 editorial people just signed up to take the latest buyout offer — is likely to get sloppier with its detail work before it gets better. Here’s a taste of where things may be headed. A headline in Monday’s paper says “Cop reverses on shooting / Officer now says use of gun in ’03 case was unjustified.”
Now says? The officer was Alvin Weems, who in the aftermath of a melee four years ago at the 95th Street Red Line station shot a man in the head. The basis of the Tribune story was a deposition Weems gave on December 20 — five months ago — in which, contrary to what he’d claimed earlier, he said his action “wasn’t justified.” The only thing that’s happened since then is that on April 20 the Reader put the shooting in the public eye, publishing John Conroy’s account and posting the story and a security-camera video of the fatal shooting on our Web site. Weems’s recantation was covered in Conroy’s story, which the Tribune didn’t mention. Maybe reporter David Heinzmann didn’t know about it — his story’s erroneous description of the shooting (Weems wasn’t trying to pull someone off another man when he pointed at Pleasance and fired) suggests he never watched the video (or read the frame-by-frame blog discussion of it by his colleague Eric Zorn).
The Sun-Times published its version of the Weems-says-whoops story back on May 14, which may be why the Trib‘s weighing in now. The Sun-Times didn’t mention Conroy’s story either, but at least it didn’t focus on last year’s deposition.