The Chicago News Cooperative

Richard Perez Pena writes in the NYT about the new news venture, begun by ex Tribune journalists.    The barely suppressed animus between the Tribune and the CNC staffers is understandable, especially given the long relationships involved, the intractable financial state of the the Tribune Company, and the bare-knuckled history of journalistic (or practically any other kind of) competition in Chicago.

At one level, it’s totally legit that these two teams view the world differently.  One thinks that serious journalism is more likely–over the long term–to find support from market forces than from any other model.    The other believes that market forces are insufficiently reliable to produce enough of the stuff.  But let’s face it:  the Tribune team comes off sounding awfully disingenuous when it claims–or at least implies–that its public service mission hasn’t been compromised by its resource challenges.  Such a position strains credulity in a way and to an extent that no journalist would accept from the subject of one of his or her stories.  It also belies bitch sessions which are taking place nightly (sometimes creeping forward into late afternoons) among long-time newsfolk at saloons nationwide.

If the two teams really wish each other well–and if they both believe, as the leaders of newsrooms often proclaim–that their first obligation is to the public, then they will publish or at least link to one another’s material liberally.  I predict they will find that the sun will continue to rise and the earth will go on spinning.   And who knows:  maybe their public will keep them both in business.


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