Assumption, Speculation and Hypothetical Situations

One of the most enjoyable things for me to read, as a news-consumer, is an informed political prediction written by a journalist I respect. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a political junkie, maybe I just like thinking about the “what ifs” and imagining what could be. As a journalist, though, and especially as a two-year-old journalist with no political experience or clout from which to espouse my speculations, I feel like a little discretion is in order when I blog about the Chicago shake-up.

It’s easy for traditional journalists to write articles based purely on speculation– even easier for the new media crowd. Assumption and speculation means more sensationalism (more attention from viewers, more advertising power) as well as more room for injecting personal opinions (what journalist doesn’t want to be heard?). But– pardon the cliche– there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. More viewers and more diverting, light writing is great for an entertainment business and a good asset to solid journalism. But it isn’t solid journalism. Of the many articles I’ve read about Daley stepping down from his long-held post as Chicago’s mayor, I’ve only encountered a handful that have spelled out the actual facts for the reader. Why is he stepping down? Is Rahm Emmanuel confirmed? Who are other possibilities?

Speculation about the impact upon the city of Chicago, and perhaps the White House, is definitely relevant. But these speculations shouldn’t usurp reporting upon the current situation. Let’s stop assuming that the readers have an understanding of Daley’s retirement and the current political environment in Chicago and instead provide them with one.

The basics:

Mayor Daley is not seeking a 7th term as Chicago Mayor. He announced this Tuesday, after 21 years in the position. He says it’s due to the increasing importance of his personal and family life (his wife has been ill for many years). Other factors that undeniably made an impact upon his last term include the loss of the Olympic bid, the parking meter debacle, and the effect of the nationwide budget crisis on city workers.

As addressed above, speculation about potential candidates for his position have run rampant. Here are links to some of the potentials, what they’ve said on the topic, and what we, as journalists, have speculated about their motivations and the impact their candidacy would have on both the city of Chicago and the nation.

Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff
Speculation over at The Week and from Senior Washington Correspondent Andrea Stone

Jesse Jackson (Rep- Dem)
The Hill says him & his wife are considering it.

Tom Dart, Cook County Sheriff
Hear him speak about his decision on WEBZ 91.5

Luis Gutierrez (Rep- Dem)
Read about his “exploratory committee” and his statement from CBS 2.

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