Thursday, April 28, 2005



As discussed below, John C. Twohey, the Tribune Media Services' vice president of editorial and operations, urged that Arianna Huffington's be described as something other than a blog because it would get top-notch Tribune "editorial intervention" which would make it "of a higher order and more useful" than some nasty, error ridden-blog.

Well the karma police have been working overtime.

In addition to Tuesday's "higher order" misidentification in the Tribune -- in which they mislabeled a photo of a Chicago businessman who has no mob ties as a convicted mobster -- yesterday's "more useful" Trib once again misidentified a innocent elderly Chicagoan as a mobster.

From the Tribune:
The photo that ran on the front page of Wednesday's Chicago Tribune was, in fact, of a dapper old man.
So far so good...
But he wasn't Joseph "The Clown" Lombardo.
He was Stanley Swieton, 69, a soft-spoken Chicagoan who never figured he'd make the front page of the newspaper.

The photo, under a headline asking, "Have you seen this 'Clown?'" was described as a picture of Lombardo, the subject of an international manhunt after he was indicted in a broad mob conspiracy Monday.

"I couldn't believe it," Swieton said Wednesday, after seeing the picture--of himself--pedaling down Grand Avenue dressed in a hat and overcoat. "I don't want anything to do with the mob." ***

Lombardo, 76, was charged with racketeering conspiracy Monday. ***

Swieton, who lives with his sister near where the photo was taken, said he found out about the photo when he saw a copy of the paper on his way to a county clinic to get a blood pressure pill.

"I think it was wrong," he said Wednesday. "I think they should have gotten their story straight." ***

"I just want to clear my name and go back to my life," Swieton said.
But to its credit, the Tribune did offer this explanation of the "editorial intervention" that led to this second mobster misidentification in two days:
On Tuesday, a Tribune reporter took a copy of the picture to Lombardo's attorney, Rick Halprin, who said the man was Lombardo.

Halprin said Tuesday that it was "definitely" the man he represented, adding the cigar in the right hand and the style of dress were a "dead giveaway."

But on Wednesday Halprin denied that he positively identified the photo as being that of Lombardo.
It's no wonder the Tribune made this "higher order and more useful" error.

After all, if you can't trust the word of a mob an accused mobster's lawyer, who can you trust?

For more on the story, the Sun-Times' Mark Brown rhapsodizes on the Swieton/Lombardo switcheroo and Sun-Times' Metro Briefs section covers legitimate Chicago businessman Frank Calabrese's $ 1 million defamation lawsuit against the Tribune.

But first a word of caution: The Sun-Times stories, like those in the Tribune, feature "editorial intervention."

UPDATE: This story is sure taking its toll on the traditional media.

Now the Washington Post has put a story on its website with the headline "Two Men Sue Chicago Tribune for Defamation."

But the story's opening sentence says, "Two men claim photographs in the Chicago Tribune misidentified them as high-ranking mobsters, prompting one of the men Wednesday to sue the newspaper."

The Tribune may be getting sued, but at least they can count.

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