2009 Chicago Media Highlights: Parking Meters & Peraica

What were the most important events in Chicago media in 2009? I’m not sure, bere’s what I remember:

  • Dumke and Joravsky aside, on the Olympic bid story, Chicago media largely chose to be cheerleaders rather than muckrakers. Steve Rhodes called out Greg Hinz and the S-T ed board in this September post, but his criticisms could have applied to a lot of folks.
  • Chicagoans for Rio critiqued the bid more effectively than any local journalist did.
  • In the year that Twitter went mainstream, Cook County Commissioner @tonyperaica was the most interesting local pol online. His live reports of Commission meetings opened a new window onto the sausage making– though his colleagues weren’t always happy about what he was saying.  @johnfritchey was the most interesting Democrat on Twitter. County Commission hearings could be more interesting with the two of them tweeting side-by-side in 2011.  (Peraica also introduced an online database, CookEmployees.com.)
  • The Uptown Update blog published video of kids running around Leland and Sheridan on a summer night. Though not all that gripping, the video moved onto local TV news as an example of a summer crime wave, actual or imagine.
  • Greg Hinz was consistently the best political reporter in the city. Exhibit A.
  • Rich Miller’s Capital Fax was the definitive source for impeachment coverage.
  • Thomas Frank redefined “The Chicago Way” in his WSJ column. (“Sell off public property without public scrutiny. Prohibit public input on an essential public service. Rationalize the whole thing by insisting that government can’t run such things as well as the private sector can.”)
  • Jim Tyree led a group that bought the Sun-Times in October. Maybe now it will have the resources to develop a website and online strategy.
  • EveryBlock was acquired by MSNBC– but stayed in the Loop. Another local news startup, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com, wasn’t acquired, but moved to New York. Suburban-based MLBTradeRumors blew up, becoming the site for coverage of the hot stove league.
  • The Chicago News Cooperative debuted, in collaboration with the New York Times [fd: and with the support of my employer]. Its debut generated lots of noise from the media gagglespehere, including a thoughtful post by Dan Sinker.
  • Chicago Now and ESPN Chicago joined the local scene. Neither has become relevant, yet, though Chicago Now has at least found a couple of quality bloggers.
  • The Parking Meter Geek did a great job covering the revolt against the parking meter privitzation.
  • Granta published a sold-out Chicago issue.
  • Tom Joyner was dropped from WGCI by Clear Channel, then returned weeks later on Soul 106.3. Steve Dahl reinvented himself as a daily podcaster; one of his biggest fans, Rob Feder, returned as a blogger on Chicago Public Radio’s Vocalo.org and his former partner Garry Meier landed in WGN’s midday chair, which he used to shill for a Ron Santo statue.
  • WGN AM was a mess. Led by former Howard Stern foil Kevin Metheny,  it found space for Glenn Beck impersonator Jerry Agar, gave a time slot to Simon Baninter– his schtick is that he’s French and zany –, embittered housefraus in DuPage County by cancelling the Kathy and Judy Show, and replaced newly-installed morning host John Williams after 6 months with SF import Greg Jarrett. (Jarrett’s affable, but tries just a bit too hard.) Feder detailed WGN’s travails last month.
  • The Sports pages engaged in a hiring war. The Trib and Sun Times have been snagging one another’s reporters this fall and took it to a new level this week.  Swapping Rick Morrissey for Brad Biggs is a good trade for the Trib, though it’s not clear what will happen to his blog. Biggs’ Twitter stream is essential for downtrodden Bear fans.
  • Speaking of downtrodden, the place to be following  Bears losses this season has been The Score’s postgame show, hosted by Doug Buffone and Ed  O’Bradovich, sports radio’s version of Statler and Waldorf. Less important, and more random, was Hub Arkush’s series of “scoops” that the McCaskey family was feeling out new leadership for the Bears.
  • Jeff Joniak and Pat Foley continued to be the two best play-by-play men in town.
  • Mark Grote and Bruce Wolff found a niche for retro sports talk on The Score 670’s Saturday afternoons. Where else can you get your Dallas Comegys, Vince Evans and Barry Foote?
  • Jay Cutler has proven himself to be a bigger jerk than Jordan– Stefan Fatsis called it in April.

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