MEDIA WATCH: Tribune blogger covers CPS from Brooklyn

In the middle of the hottest union election campaign and a rumor that the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Board of Education are "renegotiating" the current CTU contract (which doesn't officially expire until 2012), the once sort of relevant Chicago Tribune CPS blog, District, brings its readers (a) news from Washington, D.C., (b) some Yuppie meanderings about Nettlehorst Elementary School in Chicago, and (c) the usual rehash of conventional opinion or recycled corporate Chicago news.

A few weeks ago, a union activist from New York City (more than 40 years of activism in the United Federation of Teachers) told Substance he had run into a Chicago blogger at a New York education media event. "Let me guess," I answered. "Alexander Russo." The answer, of course, was "Yes." Russo has been living in Brooklyn for more than a year, yet the Chicago Tribune still has him running its "CPS" blog, "" As a result, the once relevant District 299 blog has degenerated into recycled old news stories from the Sun-Times and Tribune, an occasional irrelevancy from a select group of opinionators (SubstanceNews is not one of them, since we're reporting news and analysis, which is not what the blogs really want) and musings about What-Do- You-Think-About...

Something that's happening someplace else. Like the morning that Marilyn Stewart told the world she wouldn't debate Karen Lewis at Operation PUSH, District 299 was asking around about what people thought of Michelle Rhee's work in Washington, D.C. (where the union is in a fight and a new contract was just sort of agreed to by a lame duck union administration).

For the past year, the Tribune has been challenged when it came to even getting a reporter to each meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. On April 28, 2010, for example, the Trib didn't bother covering the Board, which, among other things, voted to bother another $450 million through construction bonds, hired Barbara Bowman as a consultant so she could draw a pension of more than $100,000, and heard from more than three dozen community and teacher activists, most of them angry.

Not news, according to the Tribune's news staff.

So why would anyone think that the Tribune's resident blogger would want to cover stuff in Chicago, when everyone knows Brooklyn is a much better place to get the news from Chicago's schools? 


June 5, 2010 at 12:24 PM

By: John Whitfield

Nice Place to be, Brooklyn

I wonder which caucus will be coming out more against the two ongoing wars. Aren't the billons spent monthly sihoning off education funds one way or another? It was great when Deborah allowed buses to go to D.C. to protest the war(s). And to see CTU faces, especially the rank n' file members, whose faces are more familiar at such events.

Years ago we (a group of fasters) stayed at a parish in Brooklyn and went every day to pamphlet in front of the United Nations, and to fast, out front of the UN, across the street, over the question of the sanctions imposed on Iraq after the first invasion of Iraq, when the first George Bush was president.

Clinton honored those sanctions, even though as many as a million Iraqi children died because of them, because of those sanctions that had been imposed. Since an advanced medical society was obliterated in Dessert Storm, even the most basic medical needs became nearly impossible to acquire.

It was an enlightening experience for me, going 20 days without food, though others in the group went for 40 days. I felt that it would be wise to make it back for the first day of school. though my concept of fasting had been more along the line of how Cesar Chavez fasted, just kind of sitting around, the experience was just the opposite. I basically hung out with a former medic in Viet Nam, though I was hard pressed to keep up with him. I went along with him to Staten Island, where he spoke to a congregation there one Suinday morning. You would like the Staten Island Ferry, if you have never taken it. And NYC is a great place, needless to say, as you all know.

Brooklyn, the Flatbush stop on the train ("Stand clear of the closing doors"), what a wonderful array of diversity, immigrants from all over. The people who built this land, as Woody would sing, from California to the New York Islands, to the Gulf stream waters, uh oh. The oil spill.

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

3 + 4 =