From: The Editor
To: All Hands
Re: The First 100 Days
Since President Obama took office, we have (focused with laser-like intensity on the troubled economy; continued to disappoint our parent company; shut down our sister broadcast operation, finally drawing the curtain on the news-gathering “synergy” we talked about for twenty-five years).
These are tumultuous economic times for all of us, of course, and in response we have (folded the Real Estate section into the Business section into the Metro section; begun mandatory Twittering classes for all reporters; reinstituted daily thoroughbred horse racing results).
Even so, I think it’s safe to say that our coverage of the new President has been (post-partisan; post-racial; post-modern). We set out to provide our readers with a perspective that was (transformational; focused 24/7 on Rush Limbaugh; too big to fail).
Over these 100 days we have served our readers by paying great attention to the views of (the former top political advisor to George W. Bush; a defrocked former Republican Speaker of the House; Sen. John McCain’s daughter).
We looked into the reality that (the British hate the Obamas; the British love the Obamas; the French insist on acting like, well, the French). And we want to know why (the Obamas can’t pick a church; the President stiffed the Gridiron Club; Bo the Water Dog is wearing a scarf).
We played it straight when (the governor of Texas talked about seceding from the Union; GOP party chairman Michael Steele compared himself to Obama; Alaskan heartthrob Levi Johnston took his views on love and marriage on a daytime TV media tour).
And the copy desk produced some memorable headlines: (“Hillary Clinton Faces First Diplomatic Test”; “House Democrats in Revolt Over Administration Budget”; “Republicans Disappointed at Obama’s Lack of Bipartisan Outreach”).
Some of our readers are angry. A few did remind us of (our editorial call to have the SEC “get out of the way” of the booming financial services industry; our “See a House, Buy a House” series in the Real Estate section a few years ago; our 2005 “Titans of Wall Street” Sunday magazine cover).
In response, we have (ramped up our usage of the term “Chicken Little”; designated a reporter to assign blame for the financial meltdown; printed dozens, even hundreds, of online responses to our editorials, saying that “we SUCK”).
But even in the face of economic distress, many readers have applauded (our photo-essay on the upper arms of First Ladies through the decades; the David Brooks column in which he said he really, really wanted the President to do well; our look at Judd Gregg’s ideas for the Commerce Dept).
And others have let us know they appreciated (the Sunday price hike; the switch to a “modified” tabloid format; the Peggy Noonan column in which she said she really, really wanted the President to do well).
The accolades are nice, but our vital task is in no way complete. In the days and weeks to come we will explore (the whereabouts of Henry Paulson; the wit and wisdom of Gov. Bobby Jindal; Sanjay Gupta’s views on health care).
Pressing questions abound as to how (Tom Daschle is getting around town; the President has kept his distance from Bono; former hedge-fund millionaires working for Obama became Socialists).
Our readers need to know (why Barney Frank is so cranky; why Michelle Obama is no longer an angry black woman; whether or not the President will write a third memoir before he turns fifty).
We look forward to the second 100 days.Steve Daley is a former reporter and columnist for the Chicago Tribune.