Steve Huntley, the Fall of Chicago Newspapering and The Chicago Way

By John Kass

Steve Huntley, columnist, distinguished veteran Chicago editor and newspaperman—and now frequent contributor to– is our guest on this edition of The Chicago Way podcast.

We hope that you click on the link and join us– Steve and Jeff Carlin and me–as we talk about Chicago journalism.

We talk about the birth of news silos—when internet pirates grabbed the advertising and news shops built virtual silos to store their readers.

We talk about what happens when language is perverted to prohibit heretical thought, which was once called dissent. Ultimately though, dissenting views were banned by many major papers when the woke unions took over and the news silos were built.

Bari Weiss—a liberal but not liberal enough–was forced to leave The New York Times. And the woke union didn’t want me around either at the paper when they found my opinions unpopular, not with the readers but within their clique.

 Steve is of the old school.

And he’s got opinions about opinions.

He comes from those old school days when opinions in newspapers were reserved for opinion columns, and op-ed columns on the editorial pages.

Readers would see a columnist’s big fat head (like mine) on a page and know that an opinion might be coming. They knew what a column was, that there were often opinions in there.

Opinion wasn’t to float capriciously in the news sections, especially not on the front page. Opinion wasn’t supposed to float up in sports news like a dead body floating in the river, or float up in the garden news, or in the features section.

News belonged in the news sections. Cook County bond court—and an examination of decisions by judges and prosecutors on separating violent offenders from the community was news.

Now, only CWB­­ Chicago does this and thank God they do.

When Steve retired at the Sun Times, after a career that included editorial page editor, but also night editor, metropolitan editor and reporter, the great Carol Marin wrote this of her old boss:

As editor of the editorial page back then, he could easily have tried to steer my columns in one direction or another.

He never did.

Not once.

Moreover, when I would explain the position I was taking — on the mayor, the Catholic Church, the state Legislature — he gave no sign of agreement or disagreement. He cared only about facts and fairness.

Like my columnist colleague, Mark Brown, I was shocked to discover when Steve become a columnist that he had truckloads of opinions.

“I am always most struck,” wrote Mark in an email, “by Steve being such a consummate journalism professional that most of us didn’t have an inkling of the depth of his conservative views until he started writing his column.”

Obviously, language is critical to understanding how we know what we know. But over the years, language has been twisted. In his novel “1984” George Orwell called it Newspeak.

Its purpose was to reshape language to prevent human beings from conceiving heretical thoughts.

Steve Huntley addressed modern day Newspeak at the other day, discussing how we come to know what we know of a major story in Chicago and other urban areas: The rise of violent crime.

Can a free republic survive the onslaught of Newspeak, which erases heretical thoughts?

We’ll ask him now on today’s edition of The Chicago Way podcast. Hope you listen and share this with your friends and family, and ask them to listen, too.

Steve Huntley, a newspaperman of the old school.

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