Wuxtry, good guy gets murdered

What does it say about the finely tuned sensibilities of newspaper editors that they consistently, time and again, all the time [oops! see below and Trib story] run murder stories emphasizing the victim, usually as undeserving of his murder, when readers like me want to know rather about the son of a bitch who did it?

As in this story, barely retrievable on the clunky Sun-Times site (no clunkier than Chi Trib’s), about the nice-guy landlord and the 28–year-old accused:

William Hallin went out of his way to help the people living in his two Chicago apartment buildings — doing repairs promptly and even taking some residents their mail when he stopped by, tenants said Sunday.

His easygoing manner made it even more difficult for those who knew the 67-year-old Hallin to understand how he could have been beaten to death, then set on fire — allegedly by a tenant who owed rent money.

As if most murders made sense and were richly deserved.  Look up the accused, people.  We are used to reading about murders and having our heartstrings tugged.  We are more interested in social pathology than social justice, however misguidingly that is conceived.

Later: I was so busy generalizing about murder stories, citing only Sun-Times, that I never got around to reading Chi Trib on the same story.  My friend and news bulldog Nicholas Stix did, and nails it in his follow-up comment below.  Much thanks to him and to this interactive medium known as blogging, which by its nature, like charity, covers a multitude of sins, including omissions.

Thanks also, and this is very important, to Chicago not being a one-newspaper town.  I’ve said it before: what one misses, the other gets for us.  That’s competition, folks, the lifeblood of newspapering and almost everything else in a capitalistic, free, society.

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  • Nicholas Stix  On 07/06/2009 at 10:02 AM

    It was yet another non-bias crime, Jim. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along. And don’t you dare criticize. Criticism is a hate crime, and worse than murder.


  • Nicholas Stix  On 07/06/2009 at 10:34 AM

    Follow-up: This Martin Vega is a real special guy – a five-time loser. He was a murder waiting to happen.

    From today’s Trib story:

    “Around 6 p.m. Friday, Hallin went to collect rent, and Vega didn’t pay up, Assistant Cook County State’s Atty. Emily Stevens said. Hallin then noticed Vega had a dog in his apartment, which was not allowed, officials said. Hallin told Vega he would have to move out, and a bloody fight ensued, officials said.

    “Vega allegedly pushed Hallin down stairs then delivered blows to Hallin’s head and body with various weapons and tools, Stevens said in court. Vega allegedly took Hallin to the basement, where Hallin began to cry and beg for his life, Stevens said. To shut Hallin up, Vega put a shirt in his landlord’s mouth, then beat his skull with a lamp, Stevens said.

    “Vega then choked Hallin with a rope and put him on a rug in the basement, Stevens said. He threw gasoline from a lawn mower on the rug and on Hallin, then lit the rug on fire, Stevens alleged.

    “The Cook County state’s attorney’s office has yet to decide if it will seek the death penalty against Vega, who is due in court Monday. Vega has five felony convictions, including for unlawful use of a weapon, residential burglary and aggravated vehicular hijacking, records show.”


    Carjacking without murder is already eligible for life imprisonment, not to mention his four other felony convictions. So why was this guy free?


  • jack spatafora  On 07/06/2009 at 8:01 PM

    I agree. Murder coverage in our local media is, first, excessive, second, pointless. I realize the public supposedly wants this stuff, but one would hope professional reporters would bring to their task a level of reporting deeper than the usual who, what, where, when and why. That’s police blotter reportage. I too would prefer some thoughtful extrapolations that shed light as well as heat on urban crime.

    Of course, what I’d really prefer is they stick urban crime on the back pages, and instead put urban achievements on the front pages.How crazy is that….?!


    • Jim Bowman  On 09/14/2018 at 6:42 AM

      Sure, Jack, and the word would be, for what everybody’s talking about, go to Trib’s back pages. It’s a news paper, where you go for news, Primarily, anyway.


  • Jim Bowman  On 09/14/2018 at 6:38 AM

    Reblogged this on Chicago Newspapers.


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