There was a strange shooting early New Year’s Eve on the south side. At about 5:30 in the morning two gunmen in masks kicked open rear and side doors to a house in the 7900 block of South Woodlawn, sprayed semiautomatic gunfire from the doorways into the ground-floor apartment, where a party was still under way, then took off. Police said around 100 people were in the apartment; six were wounded by bullets, two seriously.

The Tribune and Sun-Times both said the place had a reputation for noisy parties that drove neighbors nuts and often attracted the police. The Sun-Times also reported that the place was known locally as the “Gay House” and that the police civil rights unit was investigating whether “the shooting was a hate crime.” This angle attracted the gay press. The Chicago Free Press ran the story on its front page with the headline “Gunmen open fire on South Side gays.” Windy City Times asked, “6 Shot; Hate Crime?” and quoted an official of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations condemning the incident.

The Tribune kept all such information to itself. Police hadn’t declared the attack a hate crime, so the Tribune didn’t report that the police thought it might have been one — let alone report why they thought that. (The problem, a police spokesperson told me days later, was that the intruders said nothing when they shot up the place, so their motives were a mystery.) “I have no problem with the decision people made here, that’s for sure,” said deputy metro editor Peter Kendall when I asked why the Tribune had left some of the story’s most interesting details out of the story.