The good thing about this story (“In Jackson Park, private money begins to reshape a public jewel,” by Kathy Bergen) is that it isn’t the exception, but rather typical of the Chicago Tribune’s efforts to bring its readers some top-notch journalism.
This exploration of the issues facing the Chicago parks excels in several respects:
- It’s news: It contains a lot of information that is news, at least to me, about the issues that are facing Chicago’s parks, such as public versus private operation.
- It’s balanced: There are more than two sides to all of the issues, and Bergen gives voice to all of them. Public and private.
- It places the issues in a wider context, about how the future of Jackson Park is entangled in larger questions about the future direction of the parks.
- It is thought provoking: If it was wrong for Star War creator to use public land for a private purchase to build his monstrous museum on the lakefront, what about gobbling up valuable Park District open space and parkland for the privately operated Barack Obama presidential library?
- It’s highly readable: Bergen finds people who would be directly affected by the options being discussed. Her writing is fluid, understandable and focused.
It’s a tribute to what is possible in a newspaper industry that has been rattled by electronic technology and changing reader habits. It’s a tribute to the Tribune’s ownership and senior staff who are taking the risk of providing top-notch journalism in a changing market. Bergen’s type of reporting requires a costly investment of time and resources. It reflects a strategy that wagers that readers want serious, in-depth and balanced reporting. It acknowledges that newspapers still hold the lead when it comes to the commitment and ability to do the right kind of journalism that I learned at the Marquette University Journalism School in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
It flies in the face of the often-heard criticism of newspapers that “There’s no news in it.” And it should renew the trust and the faith that readers and advertisers used to have in newspapers. Do your part and support this kind of journalism.
Help save real journalism. Go here.
Read why Americans need to learn about the nation’s most ignored war.
Find out what freelance editorial services I can provide for you.