Mindful of potential conflict-of-interest land mines, editors set up guidelines for events involving journalists, saying “the same rules apply to events as to our journalism in other forms.” Reporters and editors are to avoid offering opinion, and should not be the ones who invite their sources to sit on panels. The guidelines remind the newsroom that outside panelists and moderators are unpaid, but also equate outside sponsorship of the events with advertising in the paper and admission fees with a reader buying a copy at the newsstand.

The six Chicago Live! shows in the fall tested the waters to see what kind of feedback—and possible sponsorship partners—it would get. By the end of the run, the shows were selling out and reviews were good. At press time, the newspaper was close to announcing plans for Chicago Live! in 2011, according to Winnecke.

Showtime

At the opening curtain of the second Chicago Live! on October 21, emcee Kogan took the stage, tie loosened and shirtsleeves rolled precisely once up his forearms. Kogan looked like what he is: a Chicago newspaper guy. Just like his dad, a renowned Sun-Times reporter.

Obviously brimming with the same emotions many in the Trib newsroom were feeling about getting their paper back from what they considered to be a troop of buffoons, Kogan made an impassioned case for newspaper journalism as a foundation for civic discourse and modern democracy.

“All I’ve done in my life is work for newspapers,” he told the crowd. “I will tell you now, in the same way I could have when I was sixteen, that the Chicago Tribune, as was the Sun-Times when I worked there, as was the Daily News when I worked there—these things are what they have always been.” He paused. “A daily miracle.”

Crickets. Maybe one person clapped.

“Okay,” Kogan quipped. “One newspaper reader in the crowd.” 

 

Tim Townsend is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.