Thursday, April 13, 2006

BIG CITY BIAS IN REPORTING

The Tribune ran a story this morning under the headline "Fog blamed in southern Illinois highway pileup." I clicked on it because my time in Urbana sensitized me to the term "southern Illinois" as used by Chi city denizens. We mean it to mean anything south of about I-80. Actually, that's charitable. Most North Siders use it to mean anything south of Chinatown.

It turns out that the description was accurate. The accident was south of I-64. Indisputably southern. South of the line of St. Louis to Evansville. I was impressed. Then I saw the first paragraph of the story. "Thick fog was blamed Thursday for two rush-hour pileups involving 22 vehicles on a U.S. highway just north of this southern Illinois town, leaving several injured, the Illinois State Police said." "Rush hour?" I am pretty sure that there is not a "rush hour" between Harrisburg and Eldorado, Illinois.

And so the bias I was looking for was absent, and the bias that never crossed my mind was right there in paragraph one. Just goes to show that you can't judge a story by its cover.

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