The Name of the Game

To the editor:

Michael Miner’s item (Hot Type, 10/22) about the competition between the Chicago Tribune’s Jim Kirk and the Chicago Sun-Times’s Robert Feder was a waste of space. What part of “competition” doesn’t Miner understand?

The media beat is no less competitive than the gossip columns or the sports sections in the two dailies. Miner seemed to go to great pains to cast Kirk as being less than professional in his work for apparently “punishing” a source by ignoring news about his radio station, when Feder is known to do the same thing all the time. Ask anyone in the Chicago broadcast-media world how Feder reacts to sources who go to the Tribune first or who won’t return his calls. When items appear in the Tribune first, Feder usually ignores them at best, or attempts to downplay them at worst. It’s all part of competition.

Feder is an excellent journalist (as is Kirk), but Miner should get one thing straight: Feder also plays favorites. If you have any doubt about this, do a Nexis search on the number of times Feder mentions or writes puff pieces about certain broadcasters. For example, the frequency that Beyond the Beltway host and Museum of Broadcast Communications chief Bruce DuMont’s name appears in Feder’s column–and the glowing praise Feder heaps on any of DuMont’s work–is sickening. But the one thing that Feder’s favorites all have in common is that they go to him first with “scoops.”

As for Marv Dyson, he casts himself as the victim in this situation and says things “can’t go on this way,” when he willfully played a role in this competition by handing a “scoop” to Feder first. Hasn’t Dyson learned anything about how columnists operate? Tribune columnists–especially ones in competitions as hot as the one between Kirk and Feder–are no less likely to “punish” uncooperative sources than are Sun-Times columnists, and with good reason.

Sorry, Marv. Unfortunately things can and will “go on this way.” Save yourself the lunch money for the two columnists, and chalk this up as a learning experience.

Mark Kessler

W. Madison