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2013 Chicago Jazz Festival: Chicago Tribune won't let facts intrude

Contrary to what it says in the Tribune, the Jazz Festival budget is increased for 2013.
Contrary to what it says in the Tribune, the Jazz Festival budget is increased for 2013.
City of Chicago

The jazz critic over at the Chicago Tribune must have his proponents – I may have even met a couple – and he clearly has the support of his editors: few if any newspapers in the country devote as much space to the coverage of jazz as the Tribune.

Since I chair the Programming Committee for the Chicago Jazz Festival, you can imagine that I wholly disagree with the barrage of criticism that the Tribune jazz critic aims in our direction whenever the opportunity arises. But, since I am so closely involved – and proudly so, given the accolades the Festival has earned from musicians and writers around the world – I usually deem it inappropriate to counter these criticisms in print.

What I do think appropriate, though, is to point out bad reporting – as in sloppy, lazy, perhaps malicious – and to correct outright falsehoods when they appear in print.

And in that vein, I urge you to consider the comments about the Festival in the January 2 article entitled “Jazz resolutions for a New Year.” In reprising his annual complaint about the Festival concept – a variety of artists on multiple stages, in the classic jazz festival model that remains favored at festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe – the paper’s jazz critic writes, “Perhaps the Chicago Jazz Festival’s ancient formula helps explain why its budget steadily declines.”

In fact, however, the Festival’s programming budget has not "steadily decline[d]," and has actually increased for the 2013 Chicago Jazz Festival – a development that forcefully counters such complaints about the Festival’s “ancient formula.” A phone call or e-mail – to either the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (which produces the Festival) or the Jazz Institute of Chicago (which oversees its programming) – would have quickly unearthed this piece of information.

Once upon a time, when the Tribune still ran on journalistic principles, such phone calls were expected and demanded. These days, however – at least when it comes to covering jazz – the Tribune seems unwilling to let facts destroy a carefully constructed fiction.

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