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In this month’s letters: Intelligent news, reportorial duty, recipes, Melman, ads, and elk

SPIKE TV

The article “Changing Channels” (Media, by Robert Reed, February) mentioned that viewership [of local TV news] has declined by about 38 percent since 1988, and that the local broadcast station’s attempt to revive the viewership will be HDTV.

I was amazed that the article didn’t discuss the most important part of television: CONTENT.

The so-called “news” programs are devoid of anything approaching intelligence, except accidentally and rarely. While there is opinion, and beautiful people to look at, and whiz-bang gorgeous sets and incredibly sophisticated graphics, there is a dearth of intelligent analysis that promotes understanding of news events.

Instead the channels pump out mindless reportage of local and national events without the hint of understanding or connecting the dots, and if one switches from one channel to another, one finds that the different stations are operating in unison.

The dumbing down of America will not be stopped by high-priced glitz and jillion-pixels-to-the-inch graphics. And unless the autonomy of true reporting is returned to prominence, the continued blind focus on profit will drive TV into lighter shades of pale until even infants will not be able to see anything on the screen.

Richard Katz
Evanston


In response to the February article about local news departments and the switch to digital and HDTV, I feel the stations’ claim that their investment is to help boost sagging ratings is rather disingenuous. This expense is simply the unavoidable cost of keeping up with changing technology.

The fact that significant numbers of former viewers have switched from being passive spectators of television news and are now actively searching out news through the Internet and other alternative sources is extraordinary.

Could the reason for this phenomenon be decades of happy-talk news, pandering sensationalism, and the relentless consolidation of media ownership? What is needed to revive television news ratings is to restore credibility and integrity to the news broadcast.

At one time, the media was respected as the fourth estate, trusted with the job of informing society of injustice and putting a spotlight on government, big business scandals, and other issues that mattered. The media was the voice of the “little people.” A credible and unbiased media is essential in a free society.

Sadly, television news has not lived up to its duty. For decades, the news stations have been complicit in the dumbing down of America, assuming we have no attention span and no real interest in hard news.

What local station or network is going to rise to the challenge and rebrand their news as honest, genuine, unbiased—and actually deliver on the promise?

Larry Siegal
Skokie


VERSATILE INGREDIENTS

Wow! We picked up a copy of your November 2007 issue (cover story: 124 Best Dishes) when we were going through Chicago on our way to Milwaukee last fall, and we just got around to reading it. Your selections of the best things to order at various restaurants was fabulous. We don’t get there often, but it will serve as a great guide. But most of all, we are both pretty good cooks, and there were so many great ideas to play with. Thank you again for what has become the equivalent of a cookbook for us.

Bill and Judy Thomsen
Toledo, Ohio


MELMANIAC

I loved the Rich Melman story (The Seven Habits of a Highly Effective Restaurateur, by Jonathan Black, December). You wonder how he knows and feels the restaurant life.

Food is an art and Mr. Melman is fully aware of his customers. I’ve always liked his ideas and, of course, the food. His details focus on the human customer—meaning he loves people.

My mom was a waitress for many, many years and she always said, be a good listener. I can still hear that voice in the back of my head when I am in a serious meeting at work. I give my children the same advice.

Marie Nolan
Chicago


SEEING SPOTS

I just wanted to express my concern that the magazine lately seems to be filled with “special advertising sections.” I expected the doctor magazine (Chicago’s Top Doctors, January) to have good objective information on Chicago doctors, but it seemed to be filled only with these advertising sections. Now [February’s] “Top Lawyers” section is all just another special advertising section. I know that I never trust the info in these because they are just ads, so it is disappointing to see them fill up the magazine.

Kim Richardson
Chicago


WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

Another example of the condescending attitude of Chicago magazine staff, Jeff Ruby in particular. The Closer (“Ode-Errific,” February) is mistaken: There are, in fact, elk in Elk Grove Village. They are located in Busse Woods at the corner of Higgins Road and Arlington Heights Road.

And yes, we do have Applebee’s, Starbucks, and Ikea here in Schaumburg, but we also have Morton’s, Rosebud, Pete Miller’s, McCormick & Schmick, etc., etc. One thing we are missing: a chrome and plastic chair in front of our home to reserve a parking place. Oh, wait, we don’t need one.

Laura Ketredge-Vacek
Schaumburg

Editors’ note: Before we published “Ode-Errific,” our fact-checking staff confirmed that Busse Woods is in unincorporated Cook County, not Elk Grove Village.

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