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Opaque Behavior from Chicago Tribune

Michael Miner (Chicago Reader): Terms of Concealment: How transparent can a news shop be when it sends off former employees with hush money? True transparency, then, is not only too much to hope for but probably more than we’re entitled to. Let sinners come clean to their priests. Newspapers are entitled to their quirky little mysteries.

But later, it occurred to me, there’s another kind of transparency. A genuinely transparent paper would feel it owes us an explanation whenever a familiar byline disappears. Have you ever read a writer for years, in the Tribune or anywhere else, and then noticed that he or she wasn’t there any more? Did the writer retire? Find a better job? Get fired? Maybe the writer dropped dead at the keyboard? (No, in that case the paper would have run a really sweet obit.)

The news business remains one of the most opaque anywhere. Things journalists demand of others are considered impossible when the tables are turned. Hypocritical? Of course. But hardly a surprise, given that business people are in charge.

The answer, as always, is to see stories like Miner’s: tough, thorough and, even if the Tribune might disagree, entirely fair. Media criticism has never been more important.

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