MEDIA WATCH: New Ageyness tells a 'story' or two but ignores most of the facts and almost all the news... Why do the Sun-Times and Tribune ignore so much that happens monthly at the meetings of the Chicago Board of Education?

Once upon a time, before word processing, emails, Twitter, and cell phones, newspapers checked out the news before they printed their stories, based on the long ago learned knowledge that a second set of eyes on a story made the story tighter -- which means more accurate. That was before the days when "journalists" all came from wealthy families and had to learn the trade in graduate school programs that could cost as much as $100,000 for a couple of years. As late as the 1970s, the majority of Chicago reporters were trained in the school of fact getting, not story writing.

Former Chicago Tribune reporter Joel Hood (read, in grey tie) now handles propaganda for the Chicago Board of Education. Under Hood's predecessor Becky Carroll and continuing since Carroll left, the Chicago Board of Education has refused to hold press conferences or to allow reporters to freely question CPS officials, including "Chief Executive Officer" Barbara Byrd Bennett and her executive staff. The era that began when Rahm Emanuel appointed the current Board in May 2011 is now the longest time in Chicago history when the nation's third largest school system has refused to hold press conferences. CPS security staff also warn Substance photographers that they may only photograph Board of Education meetings from two locations, one of which guarantees that the photographs only show the backs of everyone's heads. Substance photo by George Schmidt.And as late as the early 1990s, Substance was still being called regularly by Copy Editors who would fact check stories about the Board of Education just to make sure that the official record, insofar as daily reporting gave that "first rough draft of history," was accurate. Was Michael Scott a member of the Chicago Board of Education in 1988? Which month? Was Michael Scott a member of the Chicago Board of Education in January 2010? simply facts like that.

Copy editors were largely eliminated when the newspapers changed the job description of reporters and photographers to "content providers". The silliness was taken a step further when the Chicago Sun-Times became "Chicago" and in many ways stopped editing a lot of stories altogether. In moves that couldn't be parodied in "The Wire" famous fifth season, the Sun-Times and Tribune began vying for the Journalism Prize for the least accurate reporting on a major news event. That was when the Sun-Times was not providing a carefully cropped photo of Rahm Emanuel at least once a week for its front page.

And so it was that when the news from the tumultuous March 26, 2014 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education saw print on March 27, 2014, Chicago learned that "AUSL" now stands for "Academy of Urban School Learning" and that the main news from the Board of Education meaning was a carefully secretive handout that accompanied the presentation by CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett claiming to show that all the "data" prove that last year's school closings were a great thing.

The ongoing attempts by Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale (above, center) and the Board's multi-million dollar "Communications Department" has continued to undermine the ability of most reporters to get the full stories from the Board meetings. CPS officials are particularly worried about protests becoming the subject of video, and so one of the two angles from which cameras are supposed to report on the Board meetings is behind the people who are speaking (see above). That way, reporters are limited to recording the words and actions of the Board members are are restricted in their right to actually cover the stories pouring from members of the public during each meeting. Above, David Vitale and James Bebley, the Board's top lawyer (right) can be seen in the photo, but Board critic and community activist Valerie Leonard, who is standing at the podium waiting to speak, can only be seen from behind. The Board also censors the public broadcast of the Board meetings, which air on cable TV on Saturdays, leaving out any time when CPS security roughly removes a speaker who has objected to the fact that parents, teachers and students can only talk for two minutes during each meeting. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Byrd Bennett's confidence in her own latest lies to the Board was so great that she didn't even dare put it in the usual format her staff uses to communicate the latest weird whoppers they tell every month. Copies of the document were not even provided to most of those who attended the Board meetings, and, as usual, the Board"s "Communications" staff tried to limit distribution of the official materials to selected reporters (which usual doesn't include Substance).

As a result, the Board struck media cold on March 27 when most of the Sun-Times report in the print edition simply told the "story" the Board's way.

And left out more than 40 people who contradicted the officials lies spread by the CEO, not that anyone would know reading "Chicago"


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