Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Sunday, July 14

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


It was around 11:30am March 30, 1981. I was having an early lunch at Ricardo's, a Chicago press corps hangout, with my new boss, Alan Mutter, the city editor of the Chicago Sun-Times. I was the new medical writer at the "the Bright One."

As we were getting acquainted, we caught a news bulletin on the radio: President Reagan had been shot.

Lunch was over. We ran back to the Sun-Times. Alan and the other editors began sending out reporters around the country to cover the story. I started working on my first story for the paper I grew up reading.

I talked to medical experts and medical historians about the attempt on Reagan's life as well as changes in medical care provided in other assassinations and attempts on the lives of the presidents.

I hadn't been trained on ATEX, the Sun-Times' editorial computer system. But with the help of Lynn Sweet, then a county reporter and now the Sun-Times' Washington bureau chief, and Harlan Draeger, an investigative reporter and now retired, I learned.

I had a full page and half in the paper on the medical aspects of the Reagan shooting, even as other team members in Chicago, Washington and around the country pulled together comprehensive news coverage.

It was breath-taking. It was fun. I was living out my fantasy of being a Chicago reporter.

I uncovered a story that seemed big. Many top surgeons told me that the surgery on Reagan was unnecessary and in fact may have put his life in jeopardy. The editors were interested, but cautious. They kept asking me to find more and more sources, which I did.

I had a run-in with Bill Hines, our Washington-based medical writer. He was heading into news conferences and I asked him to ask about whether the surgery was necessary based on major studies. Bill barked, "Were they supposed to get a second opinion?"

I also had a run-in with the White House, which started leaking information to refute my story, a story that my wary editors were slow to run, probably having some doubts about a brand-new reporter who might be a hot dog trying to make a mark.

I complained to another reporter, who apparently took my gripe to management. So I got called in on the carpet at the end of my first week and advised to keep my mouth shut. Joe Reilly, the metro editor, said: "It's time for you to start covering Chicago."

And so I did.

The Characters

The Sun-Times was a top-notch news operation, from flashy Harry Golden Jr. down at City Hall to suffer-no-fools Bill Hines in Washington. (Bill was famous for giving NASA a hard time. The space agency kept blaming the repeated failure of early missions on random errors. When they finally got a rocket into space, Bill asked if that success was due to random success.)

Mike Royko, author of Boss, a biting look at Mayor Daley the First, was a columnist at the Sun-Times. He had won a Pulitzer for his columns in the Sun-Times' deceased sister paper, the Daily News. Pulitzer Prize-winner Roger Ebert was reviewing the movies then as now. The Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative team of Art Petaque and Hugh Hough broke stories on cop scandals and the mob.

Bill Mauldin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, who made his mark with portrayals during World War II of scruffy GIs Willy and Joe, was our political cartoonist. Bill, who lived in New Mexico and only came into Chicago rarely, did that famous cartoon of President Lincoln at his monument weeping after the Kennedy assassination. "Kup," Irv Kupcinet, the celebrity columnist, whom my father idolized, called me "Doc." Ann Landers (Eppie Lederer) was there.

There was investigative reporter Charles Nicodemus, our long-time union leader, who as a reporter made politicians quake and whose efforts brought Chicago the Harold Washington Public Library because he felt a world-class city needed a world-class library, not just a rehab of a dumpy Goldblatt's department store.

Phil O'Connor, the last of the great rewritemen, was taking dictation from reporters in the field and tracking down police sources. Phil could talk like a cop and more importantly could get the cops to talk — and meet impossible deadlines.

The brilliant architecture writer M.W. "Bill" Newman, would wander Chicago deep in thought and delivered insightful poetry on the cityscape. Bill Braden, another staff reporter, wrote like an angel on deadline.

We had a load of other talented reporters and columnists. I can't do justice to the list. They included Roger Simon, my fellow South Sider, an elegant writer. Zay Smith, still a Sun-Times columnist, and Pam Zekman, an aggressive reporter who went on to great things at CBS Channel 2. Pam and Zay were on the team that worked on the 1978 Mirage tavern story, where the Sun-Times staffers went undercover and exposed city inspectors taking a bribes. They were thisclose, as the columnists say, to winning a Pulitzer, only to have it snatched away by the Washington Post's Ben Bradlee, of Watergate fame, and others on the Pulitzer committee, over the objections of a Tribune panelist, because they questioned whether reporters should go undercover.

Jim Warren, who covered labor, would practice his pitching stance throwing a tennis ball against the wall over the water fountain. Jim's now a high-ranking editor over at the Tribune. The list of talented journalists goes on and on, past and present.

And we had our share of characters. One favorite was Chip Magnus, who walked and chirped like a penguin. Chip kept a list of staffers whom he cast with an uncanny eye for a movie he was watching in his mind (Harlan looked like a CIA agent. Dan Ruth, the TV critic, looked like a German submarine captain. Chip made me out to be a percussionist in the Chicago Symphony, though I of course never got that.) He was a great rewrite guy and a pretty decent penguin.

We were the underdogs in the market, but that just made us hungry. We were competitive with the Trib and each other.

We had a strong bench and kicked the Tribune's butt with regularity. I think the Sun-Times still does — on sheer will power, with limited resources.

I remember having five articles in one Sunday. Gregory Favre, the managing editor, sent me a memo, congratulating me. Mutter, on the other hand, said, "Kind of overexposed on Sunday, huh."

I was sharing the air and the printed page with the gods of journalism. It was a privilege going to work everyday. I was living my dream.

The Accidental Journalist

I didn't start out wanting to be a reporter, though I always seemed to be writing things that amused my friends. I was an accidental journalist. I had been a communications major focusing on advertising at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the mid- to late-1960s. The faculty named me the "student of the year" and I won the prestigious St. Louis Advertising Club's College Award.

I was headed to Madison Avenue, but the Vietnam War got in the way. Selling widgets seemed wrong to me. A couple classes I took pass-fail, taught by Prof. Thomas Guback, changed my direction. They dealt with the role of mass communications in democracy and the history of mass media. I was sold on the idea that the press could make a difference in society. I inadvertently avoided the hands-on courses by entering J-school as a grad student. The grad school assumed I had taken basic reporting and editing. I hadn't.

I also bought into the romance of newspapering. I wonder if journalism students today still do.

Ben Hecht, a columnist and reporter on the Chicago Daily News before he wrote for Hollywood and Broadway, was my hero. He immortalized Chicago journalism in his play, The Front Page, and his books, including One Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago. He practiced journalism in a way that would be unacceptable today. He described digging a hole in Lincoln Park and posing some of his family members around the crater for a photo. Then he wrote a story about the earthquake that hit Chicago. He wrote about picture chasers, who would lie, cheat and steal to get images for the paper.

I loved those stories. I wanted my own 1,001 afternoons in Chicago, though not by digging trenches in Lincoln Park.

After I got out of grad school in 1970, I was draft bait. My parents were moving to California and I had to make some decisions. I had applied as a conscientious objector, but my South Side draft board wasn't buying it. They called me insincere because my dad worked for the Defense Department. I had checked out Canada, but I decided, with the support of my wife and co-adventurer Judi, to take a stand and risk prison in the United States.

I needed a job and applied at the Kankakee Journal to be a wire editor. I wrote the managing editor that I didn't know what a wire editor was, but could learn fast. They liked me, wisely kept me off the wire desk and created a reporting job. I was a bashful kid, who attended my first public meeting on my first day on the job, and wrote his first news story based on previous clips. I was hooked.

I covered the I-57 murders. I covered a deadly shootout between an anarchist and an Illinois State Police officer. I made my biggest mark covering the large state mental hospitals in Kankakee County, winning national awards for my stories on abuses of the rights of mental patients.

On the personal front, I had warned the Journal editors when they hired me that I might be arrested someday because if I was drafted, I would refuse to go into the Army. I don't think they believed me.

But twice I was arrested for draft evasion, once in the publisher Len Small's office. I was taken away in handcuffs and shackles. (The lead on the Journal's story was something like this: "A Kankakee Journal reporter went to the County Jail twice on Monday, the first time for arrest information and the second time as an arrestee.")

The sports editor, who had been at the Journal for 25 years, threatened to quit. In his mind, it was him or me. To his surprise, and mine as well, Len Small backed me up. The establishment was moving over to oppose the war. (But my notoriety ended up costing Judi her teaching job. The school board wasn't as progressive as Len Small.)

Kankakee Journal press pass

My affair with journalism grew deeper. And I still wanted to land in Chicago. But there were no jobs in the city when I felt I had earned my chops.

So I spent five years working on the St. Petersburg Times and Florida Today. Florida was a great place for a young reporter. People actually read newspapers and took them seriously. There were tons of papers and loads of competition.

I covered hard news, such as when a Russian merchant ship collided with an American yacht in high seas during a storm and fled the scene. I became a picture chaser, finding a photo of "Shorty," the tall deckhand who died in the crash, on a driver's license. I held the license up as our photographer copied Shorty's picture. The boat owner threatened to throw us into the Atlantic.

But mainly, I was a health reporter. I documented the need for a kidney dialysis center that local health planners had opposed. I wrote about how a surgeon at Cape Canaveral Hospital allowed a patient to take the banned supposed anti-cancer drug, Laetrile, in the hospital. Even the Tribune-owned Orlando Sentinel picked up on the story and gave me credit — something previously unheard of.

I won awards, including from the National Press Club for consumer writing and a fellowship from the American Public Health Association.

Throughout my years as a reporter, there have been technological and economic changes challenging the existence of the American newspaper.

When I got to Kankakee in 1970, we worked on typewriters. We cut and pasted and glued long strings of copy. I used an oil can to put down a neat line of glue, considered a high-tech stunt in those days. But while I was in Kankakee, we switched from manual typewriters to IBM Selectrics, with the symbols on a golfball-like device. One of our columnists quit; he couldn't make the adjustment to electric.

In the 1970s, there were signs of the trouble in newspapering, with TV gaining dominance, and the afternoon papers — the Chicago Daily News (for which I had freelanced) and Chicago Today (which at an inopportune time when I first moved to Florida offered me a job as an investigative reporter) — went under.

I still had my eye on landing in Chicago for personal non-journalism reasons. I was accepted into several law schools and lined up a PR job at the University of Illinois Medical Center. I interviewed at the Sun-Times and the Tribune. The editors were encouraging, but there were no jobs. I decided to wait things out in exile.

I decided I needed a break. I was finalist for the Nieman Fellowship at Harvard, but at 29 was told they favored people closer to the then cutoff of 35. But I won another fellowship at the University of Michigan and spent a year as a journalist-in-residence, studying the economics, politics and ethics of medicine. After the year was up, Judi and I decided to take our chances in Chicago. I worked for Edelman Communications and then for the American Medical Association's American Medical News.

There essentially was a freeze on hiring at the Chicago Sun-Times, which took on some Daily news people. But I was in the first group to be hired when the freeze ended.

The old Chicago Sun-Times Building, 401 N. Wabash.

Trouble in Paradise

Marshall Field III started the progressive Sun, in 1941 and merged it with blue-collar Times. The paper was an alternative to the rock-ribbed conservative Tribune run by the eccentric isolationist Col. Robert McCormick.

I once appeared a radio show with a president of the Chicago Bar Association, who was a newsboy in that era. He told me he hawked his papers chanting, "Trib or the Truth." The Sun-Times of course offered the truth.

My dad, a native of Boston who moved to Chicago after World War II, loved the Sun-Times. He would come home, sit in his easy chair and read the paper, all night, cover to cover. They don't make newspaper readers like that anymore. My sibs are convinced I became a journalist so my father would pay attention to me.

In 1982, there was trouble in paradise. Frederick "Ted" Field, the playboy/professional racer and co-owner of the Sun-Times and the Field Enterprises empire with his half-brother Marshall V, decided he wanted to go into the movie business. Ted, who was born in Chicago but grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, had no interest in the newspaper. Ted took his stake and went on to make Revenge of the Nerds on our backs and had other Hollywood success with Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, 3 Men and a Baby and more, earning more than $3 billion in box office sales. Marshall Field V also moved on. Maybe the rest us should have followed their lead.

Jim Hoge, the Sun-Times' dapper publisher, told us that the paper was being sold. He promised the Fields would never sell to the one person we were probably all thinking about. He didn't name names. But we all knew that he meant Rupert Murdoch, the British media magnate.

In the Sun-Times universe, one thing I have observed: When management says something won't happen, inevitably it does. Rumors almost always turn out to be true.

Murdoch arrived in 1984 and 60 journalists made for the exits, many cashing in on a contract provision, known as the "window," that gave them buyouts based on seniority.

I remember Royko came into the newsroom, looking for someone to whom he could hand his resignation, He asked for "the Alien," meaning Murdoch. Royko left for the Tribune, where he finished out his career. Royko worried that the Alien would turn the Sun-Times into a paper in which no self-respecting fish would want to be wrapped. Murdoch brought in editors who did much to trash the paper's reputation.

Despite excesses and goofier moments, such as running a front page photo of Cary Grant that gave the mistaken impression that the actor had died, Murdoch's short stay would be remembered as the golden era in some ways. We came within 70,000 readers of catching the Tribune in circulation, albeit buying the readers with "Wingo Bingo" and other inanities. Murdoch avoided union strife. He gave us the best raises we would ever see.

Many people probably think that Murdoch, who went on to build the Fox TV and is the new owner of The Wall Street Journal, still is running the Sun-Times. But Murdoch actually left in 1986, walking away with a tidy bundle.

In the intervening years, we continued to have ups and downs. The staff shrunk. Lots of good people left. But we managed to put out a product we were proud of. The Sun-Times kept producing investigative stories, like the exposé of the hired truck scandal, by Tim Novak and Steve Warmbir, which has brought down a parade of city officials, but somehow has not managed to win Pulitzer kudos. We have hard-hitting City Hall coverage. Sports coverage has maintained the tradition. We have great columnists.

I worked in the business section, which blossomed, despite a small staff, under Dan Miller, a former editor of Crain's Chicago Business and an inductee in Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame. I can only sing the praises of my colleagues there.

The Sun-Times went through series of owners and editors and redesigns. Such changes were always considered an indication of trouble in the world of journalism.

Another press magnate arrived in 1994. Conrad Black, the British Lord, and his sidekick, David Radler, with Hollinger International, wanted the Sun-Times as a U.S. flagship to expand their media empire and to take the company public.

They brought in Nigel Wade, a highly regarded reporter and editor from the London Telegraph.

One time I received a birthday card at home from Sun-Times Managing Editor Joyce Winnecke, who is now over at the Trib. My first thought: "They've got my home address." I wrote a note to Joyce, thanking her for the card. I told her she had done a lot to thaw what I considered to be a cold environment at the Sun-Times. She forwarded my message on to Nigel.

He exploded in an e-mail to the effect: Congratulations on the birthday card campaign, but Howard Wolinsky's comments pissed him off. If there's a cold environment, it's the union's fault. Management must not stand down to the "wolinskys."

Nigel inadvertently sent me the e-mail, not Joyce. I forwarded the note to Joyce, noting that the e-mail was intended for her and inadvertently sent to me. A red-faced Joyce apologized for Nigel's comments. Nigel became a lot friendlier to me after that. He went out of his way to say hello and chat. It was good to see management stand down to a "wolinsky."

He moved on and retired to the South of France.

Things kept getting worse on the Sun-Times home front.

While crying poor, Black and Radler raided the place, using it as a personal cookie jar. On July 13, 2007, a Chicago jury found Black found guilty of three counts of mail fraud and a single count of obstruction of justice. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald declared Black was "now a convicted felon, convicted of very serious fraud charges and convicted of obstructing justice. And I'll leave it at that." Radler, who flipped on his boss, and Black are going to prison. I'll leave it at that.

Wolinsky at his new desk in the Apparel Mart, after the Sun-Times left its Wabash Street building.

Changing Technology

But despite any mismanagement and the crimes and misdemeanors of Hollinger, bigger forces were afoot at the Sun-Times and elsewhere in the newspaper business and in media-land in general. People's reading and viewing habits were changing, resulting in advertisers altering the way they spend their money.

The Internet changed everything. Readers and lucrative classified advertising went up in digital smoke.

I could see it coming more than a decade ago. Judi and I became Net evangelists in the early and mid-1990s. Judi was a grad student at the U. of I.'s library school and would come home with tales of the emerging Internet. She would be named one of the "top 10" librarians on the Net. She converted me.

I had burned out on the medical beat. I asked for a change Mark Miller, my boss at the time, if he had any ideas. He knew I was a web-head so he assigned me to cover the Net and tech for the Sun-Times in 1995.

The Sun-Times seemed to be on top of Net developments in the early years. The paper won major awards for its website. The company bought Digital Chicago magazine. But I don't believe management completely understood or bought into what was coming, and so didn't follow through. The top people apparently were too busy cooking the circulation figures and raiding the Sun-Times' treasury for personal gain.

During the Internet boom, I was offered jobs with a couple start-ups. Two wealthy Chicago guys gave me the same pitch: "Join us. We can make you very rich very fast." I was flattered, but skeptical. I took a pass. I also passed on jobs to run the Chicago bureau for two major, ad-fat magazines that were covering the boom. Both publications ultimately folded.

It seemed like a good move sticking with old media. At least I was building my pension.

Time to Leave

Staff meetings had been rare at the Sun-Times. There's not a lot of bureaucracy over there. So when we do meet, it's usually a big deal.

I remember one meeting, maybe a year and half ago. There was a dramatic backdrop of thunder and lightning outside. Our editor, Michael Cooke, was talking about how dismal things were. I asked for a prognosis — not for myself, but for the paper. Cooke made it personal and asked how old I was. I said 59. "You'll be all right," he said, but he seemed dubious about the situation five or six years out.

Cooke was too much of a Pollyanna. Things got worse faster than anyone expected.

We had another meeting recently about a new emphasis on the web. We were going web-first. In the past, we wrote for our old-fashioned print readers, the people who laid out 50 cents at the newsstand, and then our stories would go online. Now we would go online first, go to print second.

So web-first it became. No problem. On Friday, Nov. 30, 2007, Ed Zander, the chairman/CEO of embattled Motorola, resigned. I immediately did a story for the web. I then wrote an analysis scheduled to run in the Monday paper. But then the decision was made to go online immediately. The story was available at that Friday. By Monday, it was old news on the Net, but it still appeared as the lead business story in print.

The poles were reversing. New laws of gravity in effect.

It felt strange. But I only wrote the stories. I don't decide where or when they run.

The financial outlook at the paper seemed to be deteriorating rapidly. Management in January notified the Chicago Newspaper Guild, the journalists' union that they planned to lay off about 30 staffers. Cuts were also going to be made of non-union employees throughout the operation.

We had an emotional union meeting to discuss options — though there really was nothing to discuss. Management wanted to save $9 million in three years. Period. Furloughs or rolling back raises were considered only temporary fixes. Unacceptable. No doubt management was shrinking the payroll to make a sale easier.

At the meeting, we got a list of our already shrunken editorial staff. There were about 200 people broken down by job category: editorial assistants, librarians, reporters/photographers, sports writers, copy editors, columnists. We were listed by our start dates, indicating our seniority. Newer employees were at the top of the list.

We knew how many jobs the company wanted to cut by category. We knew that they were not going to cut any photographers; after all, their ranks had been thinned by an earlier buyout. They were not going to cut any writers of major sports; after all, sports news is the paper's bread and butter.

The calculation of the hit list was simple, once you counted off the desired cuts by category and took into account seniority and who was exempted. Based on seniority, I made the Schindler's list of Sun-Times journalists. My job was secure, at least for the moment.

The union said it would negotiate buyouts. A few days later, we had another meeting and heard an offer aimed at 27 people 55 and above, including me. It was up to nearly a year's pay plus extended health coverage.

I frankly thought I would finish my working days at the Sun-Times at age 65 or 66. I was a creature of habit, accustomed to getting up at 5:05am, exercising, walking the dog, gulping down my oatmeal, making that 7:35 train, waving to Ike the news vender at the Metra Electra, getting to the office by around 8:30 and putting in my workday. It was comfortable, easy, predictable. I liked it. I knew how to do the time.

Sandra Guy and Francine Knowles in the business section of the Sun-Times newsroom.

But something clicked for me after that meeting. I could see a different future. I had freelanced over the years and previously had considered doing it full-time. Maybe now, despite a looming recession, was the time to finally make my move. The Sun-Times was offering me a buyout to go away. But I had a different spin: The Sun-Times was my "angel investor" and was going to "seed" my new business.

Meanwhile, I felt like I could do a good deed and save someone else's job, at least in the short run. But my boss, Dan Miller, with whom I had worked for nine years and who himself had resigned from the paper, told me not to be altruistic. OK, I was doing it for myself.

I started to work my network, using, and contacts in my e-mail list. I may be an old dog, but I know my web tricks.

Within days, it became obvious to me that I could make a go of it. Many other publications, all well-known nationally or in Chicago, were interested in me writing for them. I was offered a regular column in a national magazine. I also had leads on more lucrative commercial work. I would be doing things with blogs and websites that weren't imagined back in 1995 when I went on the beat. Thank you, Internet.

I had back-up from Judi. I decided to go out on my own. I have fretted more about buying a new car. I became positively giddy. A weight had been lifted.

I accepted the buyout on Jan. 18. I had my exit interview Jan. 24 and signed the papers on Jan. 25, which would be my "termination" date. I shook the HR lady's hand; she said, "What, no hug?" So I hugged her. Only about half of the 27 employees 55 and above took the buyout. About 20 people were involuntarily fired.

I wish my former colleagues and the Sun-Times a bright future; I am keeping my fingers crossed. I left with no regrets. I lived my dream for nearly 30 years.

Looking Back

I worked with some of the greats of journalism and enjoyed my friendships with many of the people, copy editors, photographers, editorial assistants, web designers and librarians, who make the writers look good. I had a lot of fun. I got to write stories that had impact on people's lives.

I broke stories on various scandals over the years that led to the resignations of two CEOs and seven other top executives at the American Medical Association. The Sun-Times twice nominated me and my frequent collaborator, Tom Brune, for a Pulitzer Prize for our AMA coverage. A former AMA president and chairman, John Ring, told an AMA meeting that I should be named "layman of the year" for exposing their defects, so they could fix them.

I never got that award, but I got loads of others for consumer writing, medical writing and investigative reporting. (I was honored by the Illinois Academy of Audiology on the evening before I left the paper. I told the audiologists, "A funny thing happened to me on the way over to your meeting. I had my exit interview.")

I also broke stories on the AMA's ownership of tobacco stock (which they then quietly sold off) and the AMA president's ownership of a tobacco farm (which he quietly sold off). I spent a year solid just covering AIDS, which, among other things, led to the state of Illinois paying for indigents to receive the first AIDS medication. I exposed a mob-linked insurance operation, preventing it from winning a state contract. My stories on health helped people find the care they needed to have babies, to treat cancer and so on. I covered the emergence of the Internet.

I wrote two books, one with Tom Brune on the AMA, The Serpent on the Staff: The Unhealthy Politics of the American Medical Association, and another with Judi, the best-seller Healthcare Online For Dummies.

Things are tough in journalism. My accountant Jerry Hewitt said in an e-mail, "Boy, all the journalists I know (one at LA Times, one in San Jose, one at SF Chron, etc.) are dropping like flies. When the last newspaper has disappeared, who will pay for the content of all the websites I survey for free?"

Jerry nailed the employment trend and the content dilemma. You Net readers may not appreciate this: Even writers, editors, photographers, designers have to eat.

Despite these economic contractions and the changing environment, I am optimistic about the future of journalism. We need writers, editors and photographers to tell the stories about what's happening in our world.

I have a stake in it still, for myself and my family.

My son David Wolinsky is doing great as the Chicago city editor of the Onion's AV Club, a publication that seems to be thriving. My nephew Ross Wolinsky is a web content producer with a Sun-Times' Pioneer Press in Glenview; he also writes for Cracked and has some great things in his writing future. My nephew Alex Wolinsky is a top editor at his high school paper in the Bay Area and has his eye on a career in journalism.

Those of you who dream journalism dreams, I would urge you to follow them. It will be a challenging, changing environment, but you'll be able to get the word out in new ways. I don't know what will happen. We may save the trees. Publishing may go all digital. Maybe we'll carry hand-held devices to scoop up "content" from the ether. New business models will have to emerge to pay the bills.

My 1,001 afternoons in Chicago are over. In the end, they turned out to be more than 6,001 afternoons. I had more than 4,400 bylines, which probably comes to more than 2 million words. My goal is to keep telling those stories. In print. Or online.

Dan Miller, a former Daily News editor and reporter, has the final edition of the Daily News on his bookshelf. The headline was "So long, Chicago."

For me it's "So long, Sun-Times." Thanks.


About the Author(s)

Howard Wolinsky was a Chicago Sun-Times reporter for nearly 27 years. Since Jan. 25 when he accepted a buyout, he has been a freelance writer, covering healthcare and high tech. He can be reached at

GB store

Recently on Detour

Curtis Mann: Photographing with Nails and Bleach
A local artist works with unconventional methods and controversial subject matter to create new worlds.

Pablo's Chicago
Wearing black made life easier for Pablo. He didn't want anyone to see that he was new.

St. Patrick's Day Reading
Reviews of Chief O'Neill's Sketchy Recollections of an Eventful Life in Chicago and James T. Farrell's A World I Never Made.

Bicyclists Do the Safety Dance
Chicago's reckless driving ordinance is on the books. Now City Hall is considering a crackdown on bicyclists.

No More "Door Prizes?"
Chicago aldermen rubber-stamped Daley's proposal to fine drivers who endanger bicyclists, but they want to crack down on bikes as well.

View the complete archive

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15