Chi Trib's Diane Rado's sidebar to her page-oner on the cost of textbooks -- there's a markup! you save by buying online! -- is a cameo study of journalism today.
* "Illinois spends taxpayer dollars" on nonpublic schools, she opens. As opposed to the other kind of dollars Illinois spends. "Taxpayer" helps get our dander up.
* ". . . even as public schools struggle" to buy books. Dander rising.
* It's $3 million vs. $24 million for publics. Oh?
* "While taxpayers might be surprised . . . " While she's at it, she might try "although," which has only one meaning, while "while" has two, one of them having to do with time, as in "at the same time," etc.
* The state has been doing this "since the mid-70s," she says in the fourth paragraph. Oh? This sneaked up on her.
* Americans United does not like it, never did: "Taxpayers ought to stand up . . ." says their spokesman.
* "Not everyone agrees" with him. Not everyone? Hardly anyone, to judge by the 30-year standing-up hiatus. Who's even been talking about it, with the George Ryan trial and all?
* The Catholic lobbyist who got the money in the first place has the last word, however: "It is in the state's interest to keep private schools healthy," he says. We don't know what else he said, but anyhow his last comment hangs there: "They save the public school system money." I'd say that's pretty obvious, but does Rado know it? If nonpublic schools closed tomorrow and sent their kids to public ones, does she realize what it would do to the price of textbooks? Heck, readers would be asking, "Who's George Ryan?"