STORY DEMANDS CONFLICT: Chi Trib today has p-1 story, left column, by Neikirk about a runaway special-interest-oriented tax package on its way to passing, condemned by t-tanks of left and right.

Sun-Times has Wolinsky story about Motorola losing a top exec, apparently because of bad performance under relatively new CEO.

Trib's is very long, S-T's pithy, which right off makes the latter more a newspaper story. Still, that's also broadsheet vs. tabloid style, and Neikirk's story gives play to notion that taxation can hurt business, and you can't blame a guy for trying, with his quoting of Brookings and American Enterprise institutes in same story.

But apart from the Trib story's length, something nagged me about it. As a reader I could not get excited, because of the what-else-is-new element. Lobbyists get what they want, and picnics get rained on, so?

But reading Wolinsky, on the business page, I got analysts' comment on the departure of the exec. They saw it as man leaving because he did poorly and the new CEO said get out of here. Then I got a claim of being "floored" by the very idea from Motorola's #2 man, and in length readable over coffee. Now there I was with at least a bit of conflict.

But there was none in Neikirk's story of 1100 words, just everybody saying what a bad thing this is, unless you count the downstate Illinois Republican seeking small-business tax relief. But no contact with the bad guys, legislative leaders approving the padding or lobbyists. No attempt to reach them is mentioned.

So no conflict, and the reader has an essay before him, or even a column, not a news story. And Neikirk sounds committed to the side he reports, whereas Wolinsky, following the rules, does not tip his hand. This is very important to the reader, who finds 1100 words of no-conflict boring compared to 550 of clear conflict and would rather not be preached to.

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