Robservations: Correcting the record on Chet Coppock

Chet Coppock (1986 photo)

Robservations on the media beat:

Devotion to Accuracy Department: Initial media reports on the death of legendary Chicago sportscaster Chet Coppock Wednesday contained incorrect information on the date and location of the traffic accident that claimed his life. At 1:04 p.m. on April 6 Coppock was a passenger in a 2004 Lexus traveling southbound on a highway in Okatie, South Carolina — 14 miles west of Hilton Head Island — when it crossed the median and struck a 2018 Land Rover traveling northbound, according to police reports. The Land Rover then struck a 2019 Chevrolet traveling in the same direction. Coppock, all three drivers and a passenger in the Chevrolet were injured. The driver of the Lexus was identified as Amy Louise Williams, 50, a former Chicago TV producer from Hammond, Indiana, who now lives in Charleston, South Carolina. Coppock, 70, died of multiple injuries 11 days later at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia. (I have updated my original post to include the correct information.)

R. Kelly

For the better part of nearly two decades, the Sun-Times was virtually alone in exposing allegations of sexual misconduct by R&B star R. Kelly, thanks to the dogged work of music critic Jim DeRogatis, reporter Abdon Pallasch and columnist Mary Mitchell. Why did it take other local media until now to follow up? An article in Gateway Journalism Review, the quarterly published by Southern Illinois University School of Journalism, cites numerous reasons Chicago Tribune editors dropped the ball — including ignorance, arrogance and pride. (Here is the link.) “I actually was telling my paper that we should write about it,” Tribune rock critic Greg Kot is quoted as saying. “I don’t think they took it as seriously as they should have. My feeling was that this was a story that should have been reported out.”

Jim DeRogatis

For more on the story that led to R. Kelly being charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, Jim DeRogatis will deliver the Dean’s Lecture at Columbia College Tuesday on “Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly” (which also is the title of his new book). Free and open to the public, the lecture will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Film Row Cinema, 1104 South Wabash Avenue. DeRogatis, longtime co-host of “Sound Opinions” on Chicago Public Media WBEZ 91.5-FM as well as former Sun-Times music critic, is an associate professor in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Columbia College.

Aaron Barnhart

Happy to report the return of old friend and colleague Aaron Barnhart to the TV beat. Creator of the seminal websites Late Show News and TV Barn, and former media critic for the Kansas City Star, the onetime Chicagoan left the business for health reasons and other pursuits in 2012. This week he announced he’s joining Primetimer.com, a new online guide to “queue-worthy programming, past and present.” Barnhart’s twice-a-week column will review great shows that haven’t received the attention they deserve. “Networks and streaming services have been churning out quality by the truckload since I left the beat,” he wrote. “It’s a struggle for critics and viewers to keep track of all the new shows, let alone the ones they missed while they were watching other shows. There’s a huge and growing library of soon-to-be television classics that need championing now, before they fall off the long tail of content.”

Friday’s comment of the day: Penny Lane Juhlin: Thank you, Robert, for sharing this unique memorial of Chet Coppock. He and I were just starting out together when we walked with some friends one night on the floor of the Chicago Stadium and he talked of his dreams. I was mesmerized at his fortitude and clear vision of what he wanted for his future. We remained friends and I was sick and shocked at his ending. You wonder in this day and age of all the safety gadgets on cars how this could still happen. Maybe I am naive. I just don’t like to look at this sad ending. He had so much more to see. His daughter just got married a few weeks ago and he described how much this occasion meant to him. He was so happy. Such a loss . . . but I am so glad to call him my friend for so long.