The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Magazine named Chicago News Bench one of Chicago's best blogs in 2008. (It was called "Rogers Park Bench" at the time.)

"[Chicago News Bench] opines on Rogers Park and the 49th Ward in his fiery blog, His mix of cynicism and skepticism targets public figures such as Mayor Daley and Alderman Joe Moore." ~ The List: The best the Web has to offer Chicago, Chicago Magazine, Feb 2008

"Great example of hyperlocal news coverage" ~ Mark Josephson, CEO,

"The Bench is a terrific blog, covering issues from the national to the regional and very local (Rogers Park), and is a thumping good read." ~ Chicago Bungalow

March 21, 2009

Update 2X: Missing Story at Chi-Town Daily News

UPDATED 2X: ChiTown Daily News Writer Responds to Criticism ALSO SEE: Bizarre Email From Chi-Town Daily News Editor ----------------- On Friday, March 13 the Chicago neighborhood of Rogers Park was not-so-surprised to see a big green "License Suspended" on the front door of the Heartland Cafe, 7000 N. Glenwood Avenue. ChiTown Daily News ran a story by Alex Parker that same day with the title "Rogers Park cafe closed after "critical" health code violations found," which had this passage in it: Chicago health inspectors found rodent feces, food kept at unsafe temperatures and mold in a Rogers Park restaurant today. Heartland Cafe was ordered to close and faces $1,500 in fines. The source for that passage? Not the ChiTown Daily News, although that's where it first appeared in a story that has been removed from their website. As of 2:00 a.m., March 21, only the headline remained although the story's text is mysteriously gone. (The source for the above quoted passage is here.) Since then, ChiTown Daily News has had two more articles, making three in breathless succession by Parker about the Heartland Cafe. The two after the now-missing article are both glowing and upbeat, in sharp contrast to the March 13 article. On March 17, an optimistic story/public relations fluff piece titled "Heartland owners hope to open later this week," in which there is no mention of the woman who called 311 on March 12 and complained that she'd gotten food poisoning at the Heartland. Parker wrote this: "They've removed the ice machine and caulked the stage to prevent rodents from entering. James says the concrete floor has been replaced, and they fired their exterminator, hiring a new one." There is no mention of the fact that the ice machine was leased or the name of the company it was leased from, the "fired" exterminator is not named, no mention of the fact that rodents easily chew through caulk, and no mention of required building permits for replacing the floors and possibly other work done. On March 20, another fluffy happy piece titled "Heartland Cafe reopens after passing health inspection." Again, no There is mention this time of the woman who called 311. Although both articles, March 17 and 20, do mention the critical health code violations, but both read like uncomfortably like public relations spin pieces. Why did the March 13 story suddenly disappear? It's not the standard practice over there to delete stories only a week after they break, and certainly not while there is still a lot of traffic yet to be had. Some examples of similar stories by Alex Parker at ChiTown Daily News that are well over a week old but still up on ChiTown Daily News' website: City inspectors closing more restaurants for health violations (Feb 26, 2009) Health inspectors close Near West Side restaurant after finding cockroaches (Feb 19, 2009) Einstein Brothers remains closed after failing health inspection (Feb 17, 2009) Two restaurants closed after health violations (Feb 16, 2009) So why the rush to delete the March 13 Heartland story? By the way, why no rush to follow up on the Einstein Brothers story? Very strange. At the bottom of their website, it is duly noted that "The Daily News is a 501(c)(3) public charity." A 501(c)(3) is a federally tax exempt corporation. They survive by taking grant money; The Knight Foundation is their primary sponsor, with grants totalling $435,000 to "Chi-Town Daily News/PublicMedia, Inc." The IRS, however, shows no listing that we could find for any charities called "Daily News," "ChiTown Daily News," "Public Media" or "PublicMedia." This does not necessarily mean that they aren't properly registered; it just means that the IRS website seems unaware of them. Perhaps the IRS listing went the way of that March 13 article about the Heartland Cafe. UPDATE: We were finally able to find "publicmedia" on the IRS charity listings here. The dependence on grant money means that ChiTown Daily News' independence is fair game for speculation. That is particularly so when you take this into account: The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (also known as the Knight Foundation), is a major supporter of seemingly "independent" media projects, and was created in 1940 with monies generated from the Akron Beacon Journal. Since 2005, the president and CEO of the foundation has been Alberto Ibarguen, the former publisher of The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. Ibarguen maintains impressive democracy-manipulating credentials, as he is a US member of the imperialist Inter-American Dialogue, board member of the CIA-linked Council on Foreign Relations, and has held high-level appointments within a number of media-manipulating groups like the Freedom Forum's Newseum, and the Inter American Press Association. Ibarguen, however, is a board member of the newly formed and ostensibly progressive investigative journalism project, Pro Publica -- for a critique of this organization's work see "Investigating the Investigators: A Critical Look at Pro Publica." (Source: Media Blunders) Next time you read the ChiTown Daily News, question where the Heartland Cafe story of March 13 disappeared to, then wonder about the puppet masters' strings attached to the huge amounts of grant money they take. RELATED: Alex Constantine's Blacklist: Duncan & Blake "Suicides" Solved ... Steiger serves as chairman of the Knight Foundation-supported Committee to Protect Journalists and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. ... In 1999 was elected to the Pulitzer Prize board. .. " ...... And Hunt does detail in the book how the CIA was engaged in many clandestine operations of covert front groups and foundations using media manipulation and propaganda to project American imperial power and hegemony throughout the world. ... 12/04/04 - Pity the poor Founding Fathers - When I questioned Larry "Bud" Meyer, Knight’s Vice President of Communications about why Knight would fund these radical left-wing groups, he made it clear he wasn’t fond of my inquiry....In total, the Knight Foundation will fund seven immigration related projects for an aggregate of $13.5 million. Knight calls its largess "Immigration Integration Investment."....The foundation apparently thinks that illegal aliens and those who lobby on their behalf deserve special treatment. (See the 2003 Knight Foundation annual report for proof: 2003 annual report.) Knight Foundation Grants Prompt Debate - Follow the Money Chicago News Bench RSS Feed Cool Stuff...

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