Nothing says Spring more than tuition hikes, housing prices and empty Cheetos bags

March 22, 2011

It's Tuesday and we are now officially in Spring. Wait, when is that supermoon again? I missed it this weekend and I would love to get my old moon boots out and dance on my roof. Oh, it's not coming back for years? Bummer, guess I'll put my moon boots back in the closet. How do I know it's spring? Well, the empty Cheetos bags are in bloom (great photo from our Flickr pool by Renee Rendler-Kaplan).

Okay, let's see what we have in the news today: 

Top story: The Trib says the housing market is on the upswing! Wait, the Sun-Times says it's on the downswing. The media must have finally been bought out, because they played such a crucial role in killing the housing market, with all the bubble talk. I am a firm believer that image and reputation play a key role in consumer confidence. A million articles published about the bubble and poof- there's a bubble. How's that for analysis? I've just debunked your favorite public radio Peabody award winning documentary. It has nothing to do with bad loans, I think it has everything to do with real estate media.

But somehow, local media is starting to sway the other way. If they get the web traffic, they'll keep that story on the home page. Home page presence will lead to follow up stories, all getting more and more pageviews. Then the editors will believe that a good market makes a good story, then that will make the housing market good again. You have the power here, so make it so!

And then everyone will be rich again. Cool?

B story: Ooooh, after such a terrible couple years, the University of Illinois is sticking it to their students (and their parents). The state school is raising their tuition by 6.9%. You would think after the trustee scandals and the admission of clout-based acceptance, they would maybe just keep prices where they were for the time being. Guess not.

And you keep Ron Zook as your football coach?

C story: In the "might be a tad late" category: The Federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Chicago police were wrong when they jailed war protesters during a downtown rally in 2003. They ruled last week. I remember being contacted by some people I knew who were arrested that night. At that time, I was working on Schadenfreude (comedy show) and was out of news production. I think I passed them on and I believe they might have had their story told on Eight Forty-Eight, but nothing too memorable. I remember the court of public opinion promptly blowing the story off because a) Isn't that what war protesters do? Get arrested? And b) There was no information out there that the police acted improper. There were some light inquiries to find out what happened, but it was probably too hard to get past the brick wall the police and mayor were putting up. Well, it turns out eight years later, a judge ruled in their favor. That's bittersweet.

D story: The James Beard nominees are out and for the first time in years (and I mean years), our WBEZ blogger and all around food media juggernaut Steve Dolinsky is not nominated for a James Beard award. Actually, it's probably more like he was eliminated, because they just don't have a local media category this year. That's a little odd and hopefully an oversight and not a trend. Local media is different than blogs. Local media is different than national production houses. Local food coverage, in both mainstream media and blogs, serves a unique purpose, connecting locals to the businesses in their community. We relate to Chicago food, because we are the consumer who wants to eat it.  It's a pretty simple concept, and local media tells the story of the Chicago food scene in a way that differs from the stories and items that are placed nationally. You have to talk to your audience, which automatically makes it a different tone. That should be celebrated as much as you celebrate local chefs or regional cuisine. And yes, I know the Trib and Reader got nominations- in national categories.

Weather: We are in that very dangerous weather area where I can't decide whether to go spring coat or stick with the winter coat. AGHGHGH!  

Sports: Did the Bulls just beat the Kings by 40 points? A 40 point spread in an NBA game? 132 points for the Bulls? What the hell is that? Is the fix in for NBA basketball? Is the message being sent to the opposing teams to lay down and let the Bulls run the table? If the Chicago market is interested, maybe there could be an upswing for the rest of the league? Or are the Bulls just that good? 

Kicker/entertainment: Chris Jones had a good piece in the Theater Loop blog yesterday about live, interactive theater coming to Block 37. It's a bingo show from Minneapolis. This is why the city took away that makeshift ice rink? For a weird mall and Tony and Tina bingo? We now have shows, high end clothing stores and neighboring restaurants. All that's left to put in are a few tables and some slots.