And Who Else Is Watching Big Media?

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And Who Else Is Watching Big Media?
By RAY HANANIA • Friday, July 06, 2012
Southwest News-Herald
I have a question that no one in the news media wants to answer. Who is watching big media like the Chicago Tribune, which often acts like an unregistered political lobbyist?

It’s not easy to get information on the big media because they are privately owned. Yet, this “private” corporation has business tentacles across many industries, and directly and indirectly receives taxpayer funds in the form of tax breaks and government-paid advertising.

If you don’t advertise in the Chicago Tribune, you become their target and get clobbered. If you don’t cooperate with them, you’re placed on their blacklist targeting politicians, governments, their associates and their communities.

It’s an old journalism trick the Tribune refined, and a jigsaw puzzle of enormous proportions. By hammering the communities that the elected officials they dislike represent, the Tribune stirs up anger against the local governments.

Just look at the Tribune’s record:

The Tribune filed bankruptcy in 2008 after trying unsuccessfully to boost its sagging ratings at its media, entertainment and professional sports interests. Imagine the Tribune lecturing any government on financial matters?

The Tribune is a privately held company yet it benefits from government by receiving tax breaks, investment interests and advertising.

The Tribune anger goes way back to the battle over lights at Wrigley Field when House Speaker Michael J. Madigan stood by Senator John Cullerton and the community to oppose the lights.

It continued in 2008 as the Tribune started collapsing into bankruptcy. The Tribune wanted $100 million in tax breaks for its failed sports team, the Cubs. The Trib sold the Cubs when it couldn’t get what it needed, and turned up its wrath against members of the Illinois Legislature who fought their demands, targeting House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, both directly and indirectly.

It’s been a libel campaign of distortions and political tricks.

When the Trib couldn’t undermine Madigan, they bashed his “neighborhood,” the Southwest Side and Suburbs, hammered his political allies and criticized public works projects, stadiums and even Midway Airport in misleading and one-sided columns, editorials and news reporting.

Tribune’s reporters sarcastically refer to the Southwest Suburbs and Southwest Side as “Madigan-ville.”

The newspaper has used its reporters to lobby legislators by pushing to direct funds through carefully written editorials, newspaper exposes and feature stories, to suburban communities in the North and Northwest suburbs.

The Tribune has attacked every major project for the Southwest Side and Southwest Suburbs, from Midway Airport to Toyota Park, to road improvements and even discrediting projects like the Crosstown Expressway.

But, when it comes to the businesses and governments that buy full page ads in their newspaper (at $95,000 a page) and politicians who have sided with their demands for taxpayer funded Handouts, the Trib doesn’t hesitate to turn a blind eye to public scams, like when the Tribune backed the bailout of Sears in Hoffman Estates, or write fluff features on their political friends who do their bidding in Springfield.

Why target a community? To undermine the local officials the increasingly ethics-challenged Tribune dislikes. No organization monitors lobbying on behalf of Chicago Tribune interests, but someone should.

Until that happens, every resident of the Southwest Side and Suburbs should recognize their subscriptions become editorial bullets that undermine our communities, our businesses and our political leaders.

The Tribune will make anyone look bad, especially those who don’t cow-tow to their demands. And why not? No one is watching the newspaper robber barons.

(Join Ray Hanania on radio Sunday morning to discuss this topic. — City & Suburban News-Herald

This post has already been read 81 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites and (Illinois News Network at

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post,, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

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