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Thank you for the article and video of Dr. Coler. He has worked wonders for me several times in recent years when my back was out. Got me up and around, and back to work without surgery. He's great!
You should do more profiles like this of local businesses that help people.
Editor's reply: Thank you. We intend to do exactly that in the weeks and months ahead.
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Just checked out your Southwest Chicago Post site. Best of luck on your new online news venture!
As a colleague in journalism, I want to offer just one criticism. I read the letters to the editor in which you were accused of racism for running mug shots of people accused of crimes. But I also notice that you appear to be even-handed in terms of identifying the race/ethnicity of suspects; and I agree with the reason you stated for running detailed descriptions of offenders. So I agree with you and disagree with the woman who wrote the letters.
But let me say this. I think you leave yourself open for charges of racism in the unprofessional way you describe offenders. Thugs? Crooks? Criminals? Gangbangers? Most newspapers stick to descriptions like man or male, woman or female. When you express an opinion in your news stories by using loaded terms like "thugs" I think people will interpret that, correctly or not, as you taking sides or even being racist. Just a thought.
Editor's reply: Thanks for wishing me luck, Chester. I'll take it!
Regarding your observation, let me ask a question. If a man sticks a loaded gun in your face, threatens to pull the trigger and robs you at gunpoint---how is that man not a thug?
When we at the Southwest Chicago Post report on someone arrested, we don't use words like thug or crook or criminal because as we write in every "Crime News Update" preface: "May all of us also remember that a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law."
We will describe a person charged with a crime as a gangbanger if the CPD incident report makes it clear that the person is a gang member. But that's nothing more than a simple statement of fact.
When we at the Southwest Chicago Post report on a crime in which the offender is unknown and has not been arrested, we use terms like thug, crook, criminal, thief, burglar, etc. We see that not as an expression of opinion, but as nothing more than a simple statement of fact.
And rest assured, we did not invent the practice. For hundreds of years, newspapers have been describing criminals as criminals. It is only in recent years that some newspapers have started softening their descriptions of criminals---a few even using terms like "gentleman" to describe those who rob, beat and steal---amazing as that may seem.
So thanks again, Chester; but we think we're on the right track when we call a thug a thug.
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I had no idea that they were going to put a garbage dump (or waste transfer station or whatever they call it) near 42nd and Cicero. Thank you for reporting on it. I did not see this news in the Trib, Sun-Times, or any of the neighborhood papers. Sounds like the Archer Heights Civic Association did their job!
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To the Editor,
I don't like your one-sided coverage of the plan to put a recycling facility near 42nd and Knox. Your story has no mention of how many jobs this would have created on land that is currently vacant. No mention of what they would pay in taxes. No mention of how the owners would have contained any odors. No mention of the steps they would have taken to prevent rats. No mention of how this would benefit the area.
Editor's reply: We certainly attempted to present a balanced view, as always. We contacted the attorney representing Midway Transfer & Recycling and offered a full opportunity to present their case. The attorney has not responded to us. We respect his decision.
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Thank you for including video footage of the 911 operators who spoke at the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch meeting. A nice presentation and lots of useful information.
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Previously Published Letters
I liked your pictures and film of the Fourth of July parade on Archer. It is nice to see the children of our community with such big smiles of their faces, scrambling for candy and enjoying themselves at such a nice event. For me, it brings back memories of when my own children were little, back in the 1960s. Kids do love parades, don't they?
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Thank you, thank you, thank you for the video of the Midway Garden Society annual walk. Our part of Chicago is so misunderstood and under-appreciated by people downtown or on the North Side. They seem to think we're nothing but concrete slabs and "neatly manicured lawns," as the Tribune and Sun-Times so often write about us with a dismissive tone.
Your video showed that our part of the city is very often a diamond in the rough, with little backyard oases that are absolutely beautiful, if only people would take the time to get to know us.
Editor's reply: Thank you. We agree, and add that the eight gardens shown on the video are just the tip of the iceberg. Backyard beauty is everywhere on the Southwest Side---and if there are any gardeners out there willing to let us stop by with a camera, we'd be pleased to showcase your garden, too.
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Please do not do as some of the other neighborhood newspapers have done and print (Chicago Police Superintendent) Garry McCarthy's article on the 43 new recruits that have just started at the Police Academy.
I have been reading local newspapers for many years, and it makes me sick to see them open their mouths and swallow anything that politicians feed them. Worse, they turn around and print it as fact for the readers.
If you do write anything about the 43, please present the other side of the story, like the thousands of officers short Chicago is---or how many CPD will retire this year. I'll bet it ain't 43!
William "Bill" BarczakClearing
Editor's reply: Thanks again for your concern, Mr. Barczak. We have not seen the press release you mentioned. In fact, we typically do not receive any press releases from the Chicago Police Department or any other department of city government. But had we seen it, we certainly would not run it (or any press release) as is. We're a news service, not a bulletin board at Jewel. We welcome press releases, but do not reprint them robotically. We think the people of the Southwest Side deserve better, which is why we deliver original news content.
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Well, your response to my letter was racist---just like your online news service is racist.
I said I would report you to the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. I have. You will be hearing from them.
If you continue to show all these mug shots of African Americans and other people of color arrested by the police, I will take additional steps, including targeting your subscribers and advertisers. If you won't listen, we'll hit you in the cash register.
Editor's reply: Thank you for sharing your opinion again, as you did several months ago. And thanks for reporting us to the commission. If they contact us, we'll tell them the same thing we've already told you. (SWCP readers, please scroll down to see the previous letter relating to this complaint.)
As far as targeting our subscribers and advertisers, please give it your best effort. But you may find it a bit difficult because we don't sell subscriptions, and we carry no paid advertising. In other words: cash register? What cash register?
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I liked your video of the Clear Ridge Baseball opening day parade. It's so nice to see the boys and girls of our area having fun. I hope you plan to cover some of the games, and maybe have some footage of our local summer carnivals. There is so much to like about Garfield Ridge and Clearing.
Editor's Note: Thank you. We agree. We plan to shoot and post more footage of our local kids.
* * *Dear Editor,
Thanks for your kind words about Kevin Hickey. He was a good boy. I knew him when he was a youngster back in the old neighborhood. It is sad he died before his time.
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Your online news service is racist. It's obvious. You show all these mug shots of people arrested by the police. Why do you show pictures? Because the people are not white, and you obviously want to wave their photographs in front of your white readers. Other community newspapers don't do that. Why do you? As an African American woman, I get your message loud and clear. I am going to report you to the Chicago Commission on Human Relations.
Editor's Note: Thank you for sharing your opinion. Please report us to the commission. We'll tell them the same thing we'll tell you. We include mug shots---completely regardless of the race/ethnicity/residence/etc of the person arrested---as quickly and frequently as we can get them from CPD News Affairs; and they, in turn, have clear protocols on when they do and don't release mug shots. For example, they don't release mug shots of juveniles, or adults charged with misdemeanors.
Why do we include mug shots in our crime news? Two reasons, basically. First, it simply helps tell the story better when you put a human face on it. We believe that reporting crime news is not some dry academic exercise. Crime is a very real, flesh-and-blood thing---with real victims and perpetrators, real damage to property and/or lives, and so forth. So yeah, we'll run photos, just as we include the salty language we sometimes find in the narratives of CPD incident reports. We want to give you the news as accurately as we can---so you can get the best possible idea of what went on.
Second, we run as many mug shots as we can as a way to assist police---if only because there's always a chance that you see Joe Blow's mug shot in a story about a burglary (for example) and you might think "Hey---that looks like the guy I saw last week doing such and such." And who knows? Could lead to an otherwise unsolved crime getting solved. That's the same reason we share police notations about unusual clothing, tattoos and scars. It might set off a light bulb in the head of someone reading it.
Finally, as for the way that other neighborhood newspapers do or don't report crime, that's their concern. Why do they not run mug shots, when mug shots are readily available? Why do other papers refuse to run crime news, except on rare occasions when CPD actually writes the story and emails it to them? Ask them. We certainly don't measure ourselves by their yardsticks. We report the news the way we believe it should be reported---and judging from the strong and positive response we have received in just nine short weeks of operation, we're confident we're on the right track.
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I am glad to see that you are following through on your promise not to be the parrot of the local politicians.
What I see in the other newspapers sickens me. For example, I liked your video of the street dedication to honor the late Commander Kupczyk. But then I read two other local newspapers that printed an article about the dedication---except that they were the exact same articles. I wondered, how can two competing newspapers have exactly the same article? Are they in kahoots with each other?
So I called both papers and asked. One was rude and hung up on me, but the other admitted that the article was not written by them, but "by the alderman." So I asked, why did your newspaper ask an alderman to write a story about a street dedication? The editor replied, we didn't. The story was something that his office sent us. So I asked, why didn't you write a story yourselves? The editor said, we didn't have a reporter available that day.
So then I asked why didn't you put the alderman's name at the top of the story? The editor said, that would be silly.
So I said look, if you print an article and it doesn't have anyone's name on it, can't we assume that one of your reporters wrote it, and that it's not something spoon fed to you by a politician or an advertiser?
There was a long pause and then the editor admitted, "No, you can't."
Keep up the good work, Southwest Chicago Post. Stay straight and honest, just as you have been.
William "Bill" BarczakClearing
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Congratulations on your new venture. I wish you success. Thank you for putting together the recent article on the possible long-term effects of sports-related injuries to children. This is something that doesn't get a lot of attention, but should. Too many children---right here in the neighborhood and elsewhere---suffer injuries that go undiagnosed and therefore may not heal properly and which may lead to health problems in the future. As your article pointed out, these problems can often be prevented with prompt diagnosis and a smart regimen of chiropractic care.
Dr. Joseph Coler, DC
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I want to know what's going on with all the tearing up of the streets around here. Sometimes I think it's just so these politically-connected construction companies can make millions of dollars---at our expense.
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I see your new publication. I like what I see so far. It looks like you will be different from other neighborhood newspapers in this city that serve as little more than mouthpieces for local politicians. Papers that load up their front pages with pictures of politicians smiling for the camera and glad-handing anyone who will stand still for a photograph. Papers that fill their pages with politicians' press releases and worse, opinion columns written by the politicians in which they brag about how great they are---all in space that could have and should have been used for the people of the neighborhood. It's sad that some newspapers sell their souls to politicians in exchange for the lucrative advertising that appears in their "public notice" classified ad section. They have no credibility.
I hope your paper is different. Keep up the good work and please continue reporting the crime news. It's good to know what's going on.
William "Bill" BarczakClearing
(Editor's Note: Thank you, Mr. Barczak. If you like what you see thus far from the Southwest Chicago Post, you'll probably enjoy what's ahead in the weeks and months to come; because it will be more of the same straightfoward, no-frills, honest and accurate news reporting on relevant topics---namely, making the Southwest Side a better place to live for us all---celebrating our community's successes and working to fix what needs fixing. And thanks for your concern about our soul. Rest assured it is safe and strong. While we are appropriately respectful of our local elected officials and the offices they hold, we have no plans to be anyone's parrot. Not us, not ever. Thanks for writing, and please write again soon. Your opinion---and everyone else's---counts.)
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