I Like Mike

Culture and technology.
April 11 1999 3:30 AM

I Like Mike

Why Royko of Chicago was our greatest columnist.

One More Time: The Best of Mike Royko
University of Chicago Press; 312 pages; $22

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If journalism has changed since Royko's heyday, so too have cities like Chicago. White ethnics have ceased to be the dominant force in urban life. In 1981, when Royko moved to a condominium in a lakefront high-rise, he cast himself as a bungalow-bred Margaret Mead, studying yuppies by living among them. But yuppies--or at least the suburbanized offspring of Slats Grobnik--were increasingly his audience and his newsroom colleagues. Royko saw himself as more and more of an anachronism. Before he died, he quit drinking and unhappily moved to the suburbs.

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So why don't we have newspaper columnists as good as him anymore? To summarize: We no longer have his kind of newspaper. We no longer have his kind of city. But mainly, we don't have another Mike Royko--a newspaper writer grounded in a place like Chicago, with a gift for explaining it to the world, and the world to it.

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