Skewed Judgment? Columnist Mike Royko Blasts Competitor's News Judgment in Playing Up Ditka Poll More Than Employee Accused of Sex Crimes

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CHICAGO TRIBUNE COLUMNIST Mike Royko skewered his old employer by contrasting the way the Chicago Sun-Times played a sportswriter's "open letter" to football coach Mike Ditka and its story on the sex crimes indictment of a former sportswriter.

In an Oct. 22 column, Royko noted that an "open letter" the day before from Sun-Times sports columnist Jay Mariotti to Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka had been heavily promoted in the paper.

Skyboxes with Mariotti's picture promoted the column on the front and back pages of the tabloid.

The column - which suggested Ditka's recent behavior was so "lunatic" he should consider quitting - was further promoted by a telephone poll asking readers whether the coach should quit.

By contrast - Royko also noted - there were no skyboxes promoting a story the same day about Peter Anding, the former Sun-Times sports clerk and stringer who is accused of using his position at the newspaper to have sexual encounters with male high school athletes. (See story on facing page.)

Anding was indicted on 196 felony counts ranging from aggravated sexual assault to manufacture of child pornography to aggravated kidnapping.

"So here we have two different approaches to two different news stories," Royko wrote.

"In one story, a football coach calls sportswriters |sonofabitches.' So a sports columnist questions the mental and emotional stability of the football coach and suggests that he either reform or quit his job and abandon his life's work.

"This is considered so newsworthy it is promoted on the front page, the back page, and even on the page where the story about the accused sex offender appears.

"However, a convicted sex offender who wrote sports stories for the same paper is indicted on almost 200 felony charges and that is not worthy of front-page treatment. …