And Don Wycliff, the public editor at your Chicago Tribune, didn't exactly leap to the story's defense. Wycliff says none of the alleged "gross inaccuracies" in the article is a true factual error, "but that's not to say that the Farm Aid story is above reproach."
"The problem with the Farm Aid story is not inaccuracy; it's naivete. ...The Tribune's story told readers something interesting about Farm Aid. It's not clear that it told them anything very meaningful or important."Michael Miner also scrutinized the Tribune story in his Hot Type column in your Chicago Reader:
The Tribune stands by its Farm Aid story, the one Neil Young tore into pieces at a news conference. Or rather reporter Jason George and his editor, Jim Kirk, stand by it. Rock critic Greg Kot holds it at arm's length. Kot wasn't consulted before the story was written, and in his Tribune interview with Young last Sunday he made it clear that Young was angry about "an investigative news story that emanated from a different department in the newspaper."Miner also "knows how papers operate" and he made a call to Laurie Styron, an analyst with the American Institute of Philanthropy in Chicago, who pointed out that the Trib's story "missed the whole point" of the Farm Aid concert.
Kot tells me, "Neil's father was a journalist. He knows how papers operate."
She says the purpose of such extravaganzas -- not just the concert but any other high-profile charity event, including the familiar black-tie auction and ball -- is to raise visibility and drum up donations. These events are expensive, she explains, and on a balance sheet often not particularly profitable.The bottom line on Farm Aid?
But she says that's not how to judge them. Referring to the 2003 Farm Aid tax return George had cited in his article, she wrote him an e-mail saying he "completely ignored the $747,880 which was raised [in donations] above and beyond the retail value of the ticket price, which is reported as Contributions." She went on, "The whole point of a charity throwing such an event is the opportunity for them to raise Contributions."
As Miner reported, The American Institute of Philanthropy gave Farm Aid a grade of A-minus -- well above the average. AIP grades charities based on the percentage of their total expenses spent on programs, and the cost of raising $100. AIP flunks organizations that don't keep the first above 60 percent and the second below $35. Farm Aid's scores were about 75 percent and $17.
In other words, contrary to the Tribune's story, Farm Aid Rocks!
Now that we've got that straightened out, let's all enjoy the video for "Painter" from Neil Young's new album "Prairie Wind".
High | Low | Quicktime
UPDATE: Here's a bonus Farm Aid photo for Mr. Parillo: