Damn Tribune.

Read the Trib’s daily police blotter and you’d think Oak Park was going to hell in a handbasket. Their blotter is a highly select group of five or six crime-related items buried in what’s left of the local news coverage in the Tribune. But day after day, two or more of the items are headlined Oak Park.

It is enough to give you – or your father-in-law who thought you should never have moved to Oak Park in the first place – quite a complex.

For my part, it is giving me a persecution complex. Why is the Trib painting Oak Park as crime-riddled?

There is the obvious reason that armed robberies in Oak Park are on the rise. Subscribe to the Journal or to our e-mail updates and you’ve noticed it, too. There are some bums with guns – or, in some cases, with what appear to be guns – robbing people. It is, I’m certain, a scary thing to be robbed at gunpoint. And, broadly, as a resident it is disconcerting to keep seeing the reports.

So what’s the difference between reading about an armed robbery in the Trib and in Wednesday Journal? Context, I tell you. We not only report the robberies, we’re also telling you about kids in BRAVO going to Atlanta to perform, about personnel changes at West Sub, about our columnist who blew off his legal career to go to the show at the Lake twice a week for a year.

Admittedly, that’s the upbeat view of the village, as last week’s paper also had a detailed report on expanded heroin trade in town, on further reviews of the village government’s $1.6-million software meltdown, and a couple of crime stories even the vigilant Trib somehow overlooked.

However, we also tell you when the bad guys with the guns get arrested, not just when a new crime is committed. In last week’s Journal, for instance, we reported on three fellows nabbed by either Oak Park or Chicago cops for allegedly taking part in local robberies.

If you read the new, improved Tribune, you get a really big picture on the front page, and then toward the back of the front section you get a smattering of what passes for news coverage of Chicago. The Trib used to report pretty regularly on Oak Park. Village board meetings, school news. That all got ditched in the big redo last fall. Someone must have objected because last week the Trib reinvented local coverage in a modest yet overblown way with West Chicagoland, a three-day-a-week added section that covers a wide swath of the ‘burbs.

Again in the new section, the gigantic picture, as if we have all become preschool morons. On day one it was a supersized image of Dan Fore, the inveterate Oak Park village board commenter, reportedly homeless fellow and, now, candidate for the village board. Oak Park through an extreme prism, the Tribune’s new way of looking at our town.

Sure I sound a bit defensive. I am. Oak Park has its failures, its successes and its befuddling moments. Right now that range of reality isn’t being reflected in the pages of the city’s largest daily paper.

The Trib is covering what is easy, what some type of reader research has told the new editors is sexy to readers. That’s crime. You pick up the incident reports. There’s no real reporting involved, no context to be created. Just a town’s hard-earned reputation to be diminished.

It is, as the Trib tells us, a brand new day.

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Dan Haley

Dan was one of the three founders of Wednesday Journal in 1980. He’s still here as its four flags – Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark – make...