To the Editor:
I have lived on the southside of chicago for over 12 years now and have watched, with great excitement, as plans are finally coming together to revitalize this wonderful place. I have, along with a majority of my neighbors (I live in Jackson Park Highlands) and work colleagues (University of Chicago), been a great supporter of the Obama Foundation’s plans for the OPC and the concomitant plans to invest in the Parks and the surrounding communities. I’ve attended many community meetings, reached out to the Foundation many times and found all my inquires received with thoughtful responses. My perception of the Foundation and the hardworking people that are running it differs greatly from what gets presented in the Herald, with its overwhelmingly negative reporting of the Foundation and its efforts.
Your enabling reporting of JPW without a clear contrast to their agenda, makes me believe that the Herald itself has an agenda. JPW does not speak for the community, indeed, the majority of us (who actually have jobs and lives and can’t devote our every waking minute to defend the Foundation), are exasperated by the amount of press time this obstructionist pair gets. How about reporting on those of us who passionately support the Foundations plans and initiatives? What about our letter that was signed by about 430 people at the University and surrounding communities expressing our enthusiasm for these plans? Nada. Instead the focus has been on JPW, the minority of faculty that have the time to host a “symposium” packed with OPC opponents, and any negative press that can be scraped up along the way.
I was further disappointed by your team when I attended the recent JPAC, “On the Table” meeting where there was significant, positive discussion about plans to improve the Parks for the upcoming years. Your beat reporter, Aaron Gettinger, sat through the entire meeting with his eyes glued to his phone and then stated at the end that there was nothing worth reporting. Really? Is this how journalism is these days? Did we need to have someone burst into the room with an AK-47 for someone to take notice? I tried to engage with him in the beginning and I found him aloof and somewhat dismissive. He could easily have asked questions or spoken with anyone in the room. Very un-journalistic, in my opinion, but then again, I’m just a scientist.
I am not asking for a rubber stamp of this process, but the overwhelming negative press by your paper is disappointing and makes it look like a low quality publication. Please stop picking the low-hanging fruit stories and look more deeply into the community dynamics surrounding this issue.