I’ve been wrestling with Phil Rosenthal’s recent insight that April 1 is a day that’s turning into a season. The Tribune‘s media columnist pointed to Time Out Chicago‘s recent ten pages of blithe coverage of that magazine’s sale to Donald Trump, deceptive nonsense helped along by being published a week before readers would be looking for it. Rosenthal is concerned. He pondered, “For the media, whose credibility is already under attack frequently enough, indulging in April Foolery can be a self-inflicted wound.”
I wonder if Rosenthal at one point was hoping to get off a good one today, April 1. What’s he writing about, though? Wholesale layoffs at Channel Two — including two anchors. You hope it’s a joke and it’s not. At the New York Times, the front page is now followed by three pages of briefs — summaries of articles carried further back in the paper or online, plus an expanded list of corrections. You hope it’s a joke and it’s not. It’s market research, which apparently has told the Times that these days even when people pick up the paper that doesn’t mean they’ve decided to read it. You wonder if Times editors are encouraging their writers to make lots of small mistakes — the kind that won’t get them sued — so that if an ad falls through at the last moment they can slap in another correction to replace it.
There are more serious self-inflicted wounds than a joke.
Sorry to say, here at the Reader it’s hard to laugh just now. In our last issue, Mike Sula told the riveting tale of an exclusive new restaurant opening today in the Carter H. Harrison Water Intake Crib. Proprietor Albert D’Angelo promised a “transgressive” menu and hinted to Sula, “Ducks and geese aren’t the only animals that you can force-feed for big livers.”
Some readers responded peevishly. One instructed, “Please look into the matter, whether he is really torturing animals, as he so proudly declares, and if so, if there is anything you can do about it, like report him for violating existing animal rights laws.” Believe me, there’s nothing we’d rather do, but the reporter’s credo does not allow us to interview someone for a puff piece one day and turn him over to the cops the next. We yield to no one in our concern for dumb animals — witness the coveted award that Reader political writer Mick Dumke just received from the Humane Society. But no matter how engorged the public becomes at Sula’s shocking report, we’re biting our tongues.