'Hot off the presses' takes on new meaning
• Editors at the Daily Herald begin every day with a question from Executive Editor Madeleine Doubek: "What will people in the suburbs be talking about today or what should they be talking about?" Not surprisingly, the first answer to that question on Monday was "the coming heat wave."
Brainstorming began for ideas on how to make Daily Herald stories about the heat useful and interesting. How would ComEd hold up after just completing a week of repairing storm damage? What are safety tips people should be aware of? What's the forecast for each day? How do we tell the story in pictures? Not every story sees print.
Looking into the future, one editor reflected on a report she'd read that claimed Chicago would have the climate of Baton Rouge, La., by the end of the century. A lot of research and a lot of speculation in that one — but not a lot of immediacy. It fell to the wayside for the time being. Looking into the past, another half recalled DuPage Editor Jim Davis once trying to fry an egg on a car trunk. Might that be something worth doing again? Davis's reply nipped that one in the bud with self-effacing humor: "Yeah, we tried to fry an egg a couple of years ago, but it didn't really work and the reporter covering the story mocked me." Another for the wayside.
Senior Vice President and Editor John Lampinen reflected on the difficulty of getting good pictures beyond just sun bathers or men shingling roofs. He challenged photographers to find engaging and different images that would tell the story of the heat in the suburbs. Take a look at their work at dailyherald.com. With the heat increasing every day, we suddenly have virtually an impromptu series under way. As Doubek noted when the ideas began piling up: "Save these. We'll need some of them all week."
• The primary interest of the Daily Herald is news, and our primary news is local. But sometimes we also want to make space for that "great read," even if it has nothing to do with the debt ceiling, war in the Mideast or crime in a suburban neighborhood. In a planning meeting, national editor Jeff Nordlund remarked on one such story — of a bride getting married a year after being paralyzed at her original bachelorette party. In the mix of things, it didn't merit our Page 1, he agreed, but he had to find space for it. The report was an uplifting look at dealing with tragedy. "Everyone will read that story," Nordlund said. It ran on Page 2. P.S. — See more about such stories in today's Daily Herald editorial under the Discuss heading at our home page.
• Just in case the News Corp. scandal in Britain makes you wonder about how your friendly local newspaper gets its information, let me quickly disavow any notion that Daily Herald reporters or editors would ever bribe the police, or anyone else, for information. The cynic in me says, "That's what the Freedom of Information Act and lawsuits are for." The realist in me giggles at the idea of a newspaper having money for such payouts — or cops so willing to give us the time of day that they would either a) accept our money or b) not rush to turn in any colleagues on our dole. As for hacking telephones ... spare me. Aside from the ethical line we would never cross, I'm impressed News Corp.'s journalists had the ability to divine someone else's telephone password. Most I know, like most people I know, have enough trouble remembering their own. No, the Daily Herald's tradition of news gathering dates back to the days when Hosea Paddock would wander out to chat with farmers in the fields. Shoe leather, they used to call it. Now, thankfully, we have cellphones, cars, laptops and email to help shorten the time and distance. But bribes? Telephone hacking? Not a chance.
Jim Slusher, firstname.lastname@example.org, is an assistant managing editor at the Daily Herald. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
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