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Reich Offers Rebuttal of DeRogatis Cultural Affairs Dept. Report

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 23, 2010 8:00PM

2010_12_23_tourism_office.jpg Tribune arts critic Howard Reich offers a near point-by-point rebuttal of last week's story from WBEZ's Jim DeRogatis regarding the exodus at the Department of Cultural Affairs. DeRo posited the story as a power struggle between the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Mayor's Office of Special Events when, in fact, many of the jobs at the department, including that of respected programmer Mike Orlove, are being transferred to the non-profit Chicago Tourism Fund.

As city Budget Office spokesman Peter Scales explained, the transfers were necessary under the Shakman decree. "There was this mix of people that needed to be straightened out, under the watch of the Inspector General and in accord with the Shakman decree," Scales told Reich, adding that the layoffs were a "technical thing" so that funding for those employees could be moved to the Tourism Fund.

DeRogatis made the necessary corrections to his report, including an erroneous claim that Mayor's Office of Special Events Chief Megan McDonald was Mayor Daley's goddaughter (McDonald also contacted Chicagoist to correct the error). So why did Reich write his rebuttal a week after DeRogatis updated his story?

WBEZ's Justin Kaufmann believes that Reich spent too much time marking the difference between his report, which was journalism, and DeRogatis's, which Reich mentioned a few times was an "electronic news story that went viral."

Per Kaufmann:

"Let's set aside the content of his column for a second and focus on his need to discredit Jim DeRogatis because he doesn't work for a print news operation. Is that your point Howard? Guys like you don't have to worry about the future of the business passing you by. I hope you enjoy working on your manual typewriter for two more years (or less) and either retire or go away.

"You know, if I were young and worked in digital production at the venerable Chicago Tribune, I would hate working with this "I'm better than you because I'm printed" bullsh*t. Over and over and over."

At this point, we let the "print vs. blogs" argument roll off our backs like water off a duck. But we can certainly empathize with both Reich and Kaufmann's position. Maybe all parties involved just need the holidays to pass and let cooler heads prevail.