Mulling things on my morning ramble
with Storm, the family's mixed Lab.
Kerry Luft was on with Charlie Potter this morning on ``The Great Outdoors'' on WGN-AM.
I usually try to catch the beginning of the show as I am getting up Sunday mornings. If it catches my ear, I keep it on downstairs as I start doing writing work.
This morning the show was basically about lamenting about the demise of outdoors writing.
Luft is/was an editor and reporter, whose focus had been foreign reporting, for the Chicago Tribune. He also does occasional, but wonderful, pieces on hunting or conservation.
I wish he would do the outdoors for the Tribune. But it is not going to happen.
The Tribune has shown its disdain for outdoors coverage in so many ways I want to puke.
Potter, obviously, does a half hour radio show for a WGN-AM, a Tribune property. Now the show is buried at 5 a.m. on Sundays. I remember when it was on in a prime, must-listen-to, time slot on Saturday mornings.
Catch my drift here. Maybe it is not so much the decline or demise of outdoors writing/outdoors media as the collapse of such under the Tribune umbrella.
Yes, I proudly have covered the outdoors for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past 17 years.
Luft and Potter did much lamenting about the late great John Husar. But the lion of an outdoors columnist for the Tribune died nearly 12 ½ years ago.
Husar was a wonderful writer and reporter. He tackled big issues with gusto. He could write beautifully about the ordinary in the outdoors. He was a real reporter.
For many of us, the pinnacle of his prose was a piece he did after Spence Petros dropped Husar off on an island on Eagle Lake (if my memory is right, I couldn't find the story in a Google search) and he simply wrote about sitting there.
As a writer, I will just say, my response was, ``Damm, that's good.''
On the other hand, Husar didn't know or particularly care about such ordinary stuff as perch fishing on the lakefront or bluegill fishing in a city lagoon or retention pond.
In the 12 ½ years since Husar died, the Tribune only briefly filled the outdoors columnist slot completely for a few years with Lew Freedman.
Freedman was and is a wonderful writer/reporter. Only he didn't give a rat's ass about Chicago outdoors. His most wonderful and elegant writing was about Alaska.
This stuff cuts me to the quick.
I think covering Chicago outdoors as a beat--that means covering such mundane things as where the fish are biting or if the big duck migration has started and who shot a big buck--is a major gig, a beat worthy of attention on a regular basis.
No, you don't receive Pulitzer Prize consideration for writing about the perch being in at Navy Pier or for writing about the 10-point buck that scored 185; but it matters, matters greatly.
Matters far more than the Tribune has given it credence for in the 12 ½ years since Husar died.
And I resent that with every fiber of my being.
More importantly, I would suggest that Luft and Potter might want to figure out how those of us who still do regular complete outdoors coverage for major newspapers do it.
And I am not the only one doing it.
But part of that is having a company that actually cares about the thoughts, wants and concerns of the ordinary reader, whatever platform that is on. It begins and stays right there.
I would proudly note that the Sun-Times has shown that consistently, even in these tough newspapering times.
People do care intensely about Chicago outdoors, enough that it can be a beat and it is for at least one newspaper in Chicago.
People care about the thousands of sandhill cranes that flew over the Friday after Thanksgiving, that some perch have been in on the lakefront, that the first firearm deer season in Illinois was a good one.
That's just stuff around Chicago outdoors in the past couple weeks.
It matters to me, too; just as it matters to thousands of others.
I was so pissed off that the meathead and I set out in the darkness long before dawn.
Didn't expect much wildlife.And there wasn't.
Heard a few Canada geese on the lake to the west. And a northern flicker flew around the edge as the we came off the old rail bed turned into a trail and headed back into town.
Still steaming, even after a two-mile walk in the dark.