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Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Chicago's Tolerance for Murder: Open letter to Chicago Tribune and other media
By nsbyrer @ 4:46 PM :: 7614 Views :: Article Rating :: Tutor/Mentor Connection Editorials
 
Open Letter to the Editorial and Publishing Staff of the Chicago Tribune, written in November of a past year.

I encourage everyone to find a printed copy of the Sunday, Nov. 24th edition of the Chicago Tribune.. Read the editorial page story about "Chicago's Tolerance for Murder."

Within the story is this commentary. "Put short, the murder rate here isn't the outrage it should be."

I agree. However, the media strategy of Chicago's newspapers, TV and radio stations is also not what it should be.

The Chicago Tribune. editorial page included this statement of cause: "One reason is that, for many Chicagoans, murder is about "them," not "us": Fewer than 7 percent of last year's homicide victims were white. And 65 percent of the victims previously had been arrested by Chicago police (although most often for nonviolent offenses). As the map at right suggests, the disparity is geographic as well, with most murders taking place in Chicago's poorest neighborhoods."

We've been saying this for years. We've also led a campaign that involves adults from all parts of the Chicago region as tutors, mentors, volunteers and change agents working in tutor/mentor programs serving inner-city children. You can read about this campaign at www.tutormentorconnection.org and  www.tutormentorexchange.net By getting the people involved as tutors/mentors we create an o­n-going service learning opportunity that makes the problems of the innercity a problem better understood and shared by those who live in more affluent areas of the region. It is o­nly then that people will begin to put more time, talent, passion and commitment into solutions.

The Editorial page in this Sunday's Chicago Tribune was great! It o­nly missed o­ne thing. It did not point to web pages where readers could look at maps of Chicago and stories/editorials by the Tribune, that expressed similar outrage about poorly performing schools, gangs, poverty, etc.

Furthermore, when I went to the www.chicagotribune.com Internet version of this story, I could not even find the maps and charts that were shown in the printed version of the paper. And I could not find links between this story and similar stories that the paper had written over the past 10 years, or to other web sites where further information could be found, or where solutions and involvement opportunities could be found.

Yet I found plenty of places where writers were asking for money to fund Chicago Tribune charities. How much more might readers respond to this appeal if the Tribune had created a map showing where those charities are located, and overlaid this information with the stories of where the murders were the greatest, or where the most poorly performing schools are located?

I wrote to your editorial board more than a week ago urging you to create a convergence in your reporting, your commentary and your web strategy.

To paraphrase yourselves, " There is no single tactic, that o­nce executed, guarantees success. There is, though, a constellation of likely answers (or potential answers) that Chicago is trying, or should try."

"Each of us should accept o­ne truth: Nothing will change if o­nly people in terrorized neighborhoods care deeply about the carnage."

NOTHING WILL CHANGE IF THOSE WHO REPORT AND COMMENT o­n THE NEWS DON'T CONNECT THE NEWS AND COMMENTARY AND PROVIDE LINKS TO LIBRARIES OF INFORMATION AND INVOLVEMENT.

Please put your words and your actions into o­ne, o­n-going strategy.



Note: The Tutor/Mentor Connection sends many letters to the Editor to Chicago media. Since 1994 several have been printed, but most are not printed. We've made a practice of putting some of these o­n our web sites so that visitors to the T/MC can read these comments even if the media don't have space to print them. 
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