Thursday, August 16, 2018

No, Water Tower Place, we will NOT edit our news because you say so

Screenshot of the story that sparked input from Water Tower Place.
Something interesting happened to us on Tuesday evening. We’d like to take a moment to tell you about it.

The night before, we published a report that detailed several recent gun arrests on the North Side, including one that took place on the sidewalk at 835 North Michigan Avenue outside of Water Tower Place. Our story was accompanied by an image of the arrested man’s mugshot overlayed on a photo of the mall’s exterior.

Then, on Tuesday evening, we got an email.

“Please edit your blog post to remove the photo of Water Tower Place,” we were told. “Thank you very much.”

The email came from Lindsay Kahn, senior manager of public relations for GGP, the Fortune 500 real estate entity that operates Water Tower Place.

There was no “hello.” No introduction. No half-hearted attempt to break the ice. Just some corporate executive whom we'd never heard of telling us what to do. It's the sort of email that guys in suits send to their workplace underlings. "Do this. Thanks."

Screenshot of the email that we received from Water Tower Place's management company
Not only did we refuse, we told Kahn that we would be writing a story about her company’s attempt to manipulate the news that we provide to our readers. We had some questions for her. She did not respond.

To us, her email is so casual, it sounds routine. From Kahn's tone, it seemed like there should be no question about what she was instructing us to do.

We asked if she sends these editorial instructions to other media outlets. You know, the big, corporate outlets that rely on the advertising dollars provided by Water Tower Place and its retailers. We asked how other news outlets handle her similar requests to edit photos and, presumably, unfavorable news copy. But, as we said, she didn’t answer.

Is it because of emails like Kahn’s that Chicago’s corporate news outlets failed to report on the brawling teen mob that left Water Tower Place on May 5th and then joined other teens to attack each other and passers-by on the streets around the mall?

Are Fortune 500 company emails about editorial content the reason that Chicago’s TV stations and newspapers took days to report on another series of youth brawls and mayhem at and near Water Tower Place on Memorial Day Weekend?

We have no idea. But we do know this: Such emails will have zero effect on the news that we report to you.

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