On Chicago TV News, Tribune Sale Is Distant Also-Ran

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

Real estate mogul Sam Zell’s deal to take Tribune Co. private may have rocked the industry Monday for what it says about the market value of newspaper companies — but in its hometown, the story was shoved to the back of newscasts on Chicago lunchtime TV news.

Even on Tribune-owned WGN-TV, the deal was the third or fourth item on the newscast, depending on how you counted the stories.

Every station in Chicago led with the biggest local story: the sudden resignation of the city’s top cop, Police Superintendent Philip Cline.

Cline was under pressure to resign as a result of his handling of the first real scandals of his three years as Chicago’s police chief. In one incident, caught on a security camera and beamed worldwide, a drunken policeman beat a female bartender who refused to serve him more drinks. In another incident, a group of police beat businessmen in a bar. In both cases, there are indications the police department tried to minimize the criminal charges for the alleged actions, and intimidated the news media.

And at every station, the Tribune deal also got knocked back in the newscasts by opening day for both city teams. The Chicago White Sox opened at home Monday afternoon, while the Chicago Cubs — whose impending sale was also announced by Tribune Monday — opened in Cincinnati.

At one station, the Tribune deal had to wait a little longer for a story a long story about the start of what is expected to be a nightmarish construction process on the CTA mass transit L train tracks.

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