MEDIA WATCH: Chicago Sun-Times blames public schools for summer rapes on South Side?!

Anyone waking up after the dual July 4 weekend losses of both the White Sox and Cubs on Saturday, July 5, could have been excused for being in a bad mood, but any reader who still reads the Chicago Sun-Times on a Sunday morning and cares about accuracy and the public schools might have been excused from southing a WTF! -- or a full-throated WHAT THE FUCK? -- that could be heard all the way from the Bungalow Belt to the Sun-Times perch downtown. The reason? The drooling public school bashing headline on the newspapers Page Six story:

AVALON PARK: 3 CPS students accused o robbing, raping girl by Frank Main

For those who don't bother to waste their money on the print edition of CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.COM any longer, the story was there in print right up front.

But the real question is where did that headline come from? Clearly, the reporter wrote the story with a lede that for some reason decided that when three teenagers rob and rape a girl during summer vacation the reason had something to do with the fact that the rapist/robbers were "students" at a Chicago public school. Is the implication now that the remaining real public schools of Chicago let the kids out for the summer after giving them rape classes? Or that -- "everybody knows about THEM" -- that kids who might be still going to the city's public schools (especially on the South Side, where most of THEM still live) are going to do raping having learned about such things AT THEIR LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS??!!

During the Vallas years, one of the silliest features of Paul G. Vallas was that he tried to make hay out of "CPS related" murders and gang violence. Every murder of a "student" that took place during the 12 months of the year, even if it were at midnight in the middle of the summer, was school related -- and the headline screamed not "gangster" or "youth" shot, but "CPS student...shot..." Then Vallas would parade before the cameras during a brief visit to the funeral or wake, sometimes giving in to extortion from the family of a deceased gang member (who should have been better supervised) with some publicly funded contribution.

By the time Arne Duncan became CEO after Vallas was ousted by Richard M. Daley in June 2001, the script was set. It took years for Duncan to wake up to the fact that CPS didn't have to help "identify" the school from which a dead gang banger hailed, let alone try to utilize the boring details of the murder of yet another Chicago street gang member for some kind of silly publicity stunt.

By the end of the Duncan years (2001 - 2009), CPS was not as willing as they had been during the Vallas years (1995 - 2001) to link the city's public schools to every murder in the city. As soon as an editorial ethicist stepped into the picture the questions were clear: If it was OK to identify a dead kid as a "CPS student" -- why not use other identifiers?

How about "Catholic kid murdered six blocks from the church he never attended after elementary school..."?

Or "Mexican American Latin King killed in front of his Little Village home...?

Anyone who remembers the "Crazed Ex-Marine..." headlines following the Vietnam War can remember how easily lazy reporters can fall into habits that slander an entire race or group of people. And it took Vietnam veterans and their supporters years of protests to eliminate the VA status of every murderer who had served in the U.S. military between 1960 and 1980 (even if they had never been within 1,000 miles of Saigon) from the lurid headlines.

So now it's time for people who care a little about accuracy to figure out a way to stop the owners of CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.COM from claiming that every rapist and murderer this summer somehow learned his or her craft in the classrooms of a public school.

Let Substance know what you hear from the techhies who now own the Sun-Times if you bother to write to them. We won't bother, because we've been convinced they are too corrupt to waste words on since we read in that deft Chicago magazine expose that they replaced their photo journalists with a "Candy Room."



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