Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tribune's endorsement of Obama historically significant

When I read online today that the Chicago Tribune had endorsed Barack Obama, I was impressed in the process that the Democratic candidate's media team had undertaken to get this.   As a youth growing up in Decatur, Illinois, I became a Tribune reader at the age of 14.

Wilma J. Dedman, my high school geography teacher at Stephen Decatur High School, kept about 45 days of the daily paper in her classroom.   As one of our class projects, we had to read and clip articles about different countries.   While a lot of my classmates read about the Chicago Bears and the Gil Thorp, I learned about how a very conservative media portayed the world.
Reading the Tribune in Mrs. Dedman's class was not my first exposure to the paper's conservative bent.  I remember as a child reading the cartoons at my grandpa's house and noted the front page as it lambasted Truman, Kennedy and Johnson.  In time, the Tribune mellowed somewhat.
Mrs. Dedman made me a regular reader of this Chicago paper.  I would take my hard-earned money and walk down to the post office to buy it every day before class in my next three years.  I remember the short walk to the post office and paying the 15 cents to the blind man who ran the news counter.  
   In college, my journalism teachers at Illinois State opened me up to the New York Times and the Washington Post.   Today, I read the Post and the Tribune both online from my Spring Blackberry when I have five or 10 minutes. 

So, when the Tribune editorial board officially endorsed Obama for president, I knew that this was a significant blow to McCain's campaign.  I am sure that there are a lot of emails McCain's campaign staff about the loss of this significant endorsement.

And, I can only imagine Mrs. Dedman's reaction if I was back in her fourth period World Geography class.  Her husband was the editor of the Decatur Tribune, a noted right wing paper.  She would probably say that it took a lot of convincing to get the Trib to endorse a Democrat in over a century.   And, being the excellent teacher that she was, she would let me think about the significance of this endorsement without slanting it towards her much more conservative view.

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