Quick Hit Lou Carlozo Monday April 25th, 2011, 4:20pm

Take It From A Pro: Words Of Welcome From The New Progress Illinois Editor In Chief

In my first official duty as the new Editor of Progress Illinois (after filling out the office paperwork), I’m signing on to greet you, the readers, with a quick look at the kind of website I’m dreaming this can be. Hopefully, as I do this, we can get to know each other a bit better.

Progress Illinois may be small, but we have a crucial job: to trumpet the stories others miss, or correct nuances that go unnoticed. I think back to the early days of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign against public unions in Wisconsin, and how virtually every media outlet characterized Walker’s moves as “cost-cutting measures.” This went on for a seeming eternity before they realized—by golly!—that Walker was out to strip public unions of their collective bargaining rights. Few reporters since have bothered to explore Walker’s barely-masked agenda to castrate unions as a way of shoring up the state’s Republican power base. But I digress.   

This brings me to another crucial distinction of Progress Illinois: We may be progressive, but we’re also committed to civility and fairness. I will never apologize for forceful coverage and op-eds on issues ranging from unemployment to political maneuvering and scandal. But we’ll always back up what we say with solid reporting, well-reasoned arguments and a decided lack of shrill name-calling.

The loss of civility in public discourse saddens me. Just this morning I picked up a book by Bernard Goldberg, who on the one hand touts his journalistic cred as a winner of “the most prestigious award in broadcast journalism,” yet attacks the parents of Paris Hilton in his book “110 People Who Are Screwing Up America” like this:

If they gave Nobel Prizes for the mom and dad who raised the most vapid, empty-headed, inane, hollow, vain, tasteless, self-centered, useless twerp in the entire country—maybe in the entire world—Rick and Kathy Hilton would be on their way to Stockholm to pick up the medal.

Now I’m no Paris Hilton fan either, but Goldberg seems to feed at the same trough as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter: The more hostile and vitriolic your rhetoric, the more brute your blunt force, the more right you are.

As for me, I'm a former Chicago Tribune staff writer, editor and columnist; founder of AOL’s Money College blogroll; and a former Chicago bureau chief for True/Slant (now Forbes Media). I take to progressive viewpoints via my roots, which taught me the values of hard work and an honest day’s pay not by way of rugged individualism, but unwavering solidarity.

Through my high school years and into my late 20s, I dropped off and picked up my mom at the dress factory where she worked in southern New Jersey. She sat at a sewing machine amongst row after row of sewing machines, a proud member of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Her fingers were crippled by arthritis, which might’ve made her a prime target for “right-sizing” elsewhere. I wonder what my mother would think of today’s economy, the widening gulf between the rich and the poor, and the so-called deficit hawks in Congress who refuse to raise taxes a penny on those making more that $200,000 a year as though it’s the Unquestionably Right Thing to Do.

Regardless of the circumstances, we have work to do. Please reach out to me with your story ideas, as well as your invitations to meet and discuss the pressing issues of the day. Email me at lou@progressillinois.com or call me on my cell, 312-608-7338. (Before you call, gimme a day to program the new phone.) I look forward to hearing from you … and in the spirit of civility all folks from all sides of the aisle are welcome.

Lou Carlozo is the editor in chief of Progress Illinois. “Take it from a Pro” is his op-ed column, appearing at least once a week until he gets up to speed.

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