Greed + Arrogance – Integrity = Adieu, ChicagoNow

Greed + Arrogance – Integrity = Adieu, ChicagoNow

The fat lady’s singin’, the swan has his song. Hit the lights on your way out … ’cause baby, we gone.

In 2019, a hedge fund called Alden Global Capital bought out the Tribune Companies.

In the wake of that event – and I do mean wake – several fine national newspapers and at least one legendary radio station ended up eviscerated. Award-winning journalists of skill and long-standing, fine editors and loyal staff were knocked-off like victims in a mob war. Some saw rats early and jumped for the lifeboats, hiring on elsewhere, or starting podcasts, websites or blogs. Some stayed tied to the mast and foundered. None deserved their fate.

Chicago, by God, was a newspaper town. Arguably moreso than New York or the west coast, ink was in our blood. Hardscrabble, dedicated professionals toiled here, from the lowliest copy boy to Pulitzer Prize winners. We were Sandburg and Hecht and Royko. Ebert, Schmich and Zorn. Kass, Kogen, Kupcinet and Condon. Bentley, Telander and Feldman. And of course, the iconic Col. McCormick.

It was a town of tough journalistic mothers who could – and often did – get the story before the rest of them. The cat’s ass, above and below the fold.

Alas, all eras come to an end. The cyber world has effectively lamed print media, rendering it old-school and worse, financially impotent. Even the highest art will fade away without proper stewardship.

Today, exponentially, it’s talent and skill be damned. Money talks and bullshit walks. It’s disgusting to realize that the hedge funders and arbitragers and deeep-pocket investors behind this takeover shit have not one scintilla of regard for the worth, the flesh and bones of its victims. Monetize, baby; all else is the aforementioned “bullshit.”

Yeah, I know that we’re capitalists and that takeovers and mass job-loss have been going on for aeons. Throw a rock and you’ll hit someone who lost a job or jobs in a pogrom. My objection is when the conquerors ham-handedly gobble up businesses they know nothing about. It’s the same as health insurance companies making medical decisions. It’s just WRONG.

Which brings us to little, ol’ ChicagoNow. What started as a Trib side hustle became a vital platform, entertaining and informative, with a talented, diverse group of writers. Some of Our Own went on to write books, form companies, become college instructors, rule the Chicago social and charity scenes, and generally enrich tens of thousands of readers and the world around them. A lot of fine writing has been done here.

Sadly, we scribes who remain at ChicagoNow have it on excellent authority that the site is being shut down.

We don’t know when, as for well over a month now there has been radio silence from on-high, i.e. whomever is running the show, Wizard of Oz-like, behind the curtain. Alden sorely lacks civility; we have no manager and absolutely no one to contact regarding our fate. Even in the cesspool of takeovers, it’s unconscionable.

And so, post by post, most of us are downloading our oeuvre and heading for bylines unknown.

I have known some incredible people in my seven years at ChicagoNow – former community manager extraordinaire Jimmy Greenfield, the incandescent Candace Jordan, our ever-prolific raconteur Howard Moore, controversial political pundit Bob Schneider, and my friends Margaret Laing, Terry Parrilli and Carole Lago. To all others I’ve communed with here, you have my sincere respect and regard.

I’ve no idea where I’m going, but if you Google “Planet Michelle” occasionally, my new digs will show up eventually.

To you who have read the musings of my little monkey brain and came back for more – I thank you. Whenever I felt like I was writing in a bell jar, thinking that there was even one person digging what I was doing made it more than worthwhile.

As my girl Amy Winehouse sang, “We only said goodbye with words.” See you in my next incarnation.

Peace out!

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Michelle Babicz

Hello, my babies! Here on Planet Michelle (Earth name: Michelle Babicz), you will find satire, song, sexy stuff and other musings from my little monkey brain. And of course, a schmear of politics, as my stomach will allow. / I live over by there, have a foreclosure cat named Lou and currently am between husbands (!! hopefully, not yours). Enjoy your orbit!

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