Almost five years ago, I visited Chicago for a week. One of the places we visited was the Chicago Tribune building, because my daughter wanted to see the stones from around the world that are embedded in its exterior. (There's a piece of one of pyramids, the Great Wall of China, and so on.) It was impressive.
While we were there, we went into the lobby and found that it is equally impressive in a different way. Carved into the stone all around the lobby are quotes about the importance of a free press.
I got goosebumps while craning my neck upwards to read them all.
I'm a sucker for the First Amendment, I admit.
And this week, with the news of the Tribune Company's bankruptcy declaration, I remembered the quotes, and the feeling I got while I was in the lobby.
Today, I heard this bit of news in the midst of the Gov. Rod Blagojevich scandal: that the governor had specifically sent his chief of staff to pressure the paper's new owner to fire the editorial writers of the Tribune. The staffer came back saying the owner "got the message and is very sensitive to the issue." There were "certain corporate reorganizations and budget cuts coming and, reading between the lines, he's going after that section." (Quoted from the Strib's news service compilation.)
While I can't help but wonder how long the paper will stay in business, I'm glad that at least the members of the editorial board will have gone down swinging.