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Wayne's Words: Trusting the Press

Wayne Horne | 2/2/2017, 6 a.m.
If you lived in downstate Peoria and woke up on Tuesday morning and read the local paper you might have ...

If you lived in downstate Peoria and woke up on Tuesday morning and read the local paper you might have been surprised to learn that the world headquarters of Caterpillar, the heavy machinery manufacturer, was leaving town. They have called Peoria home for over 100 years. The new headquarters is destined for Chicago, or maybe the suburbs. For weeks, we have been reading about the loss of Illinois residents to other states. In fact, Illinois is shrinking in population, according to many reports. Also, the City of Chicago needs to call in the Feds to restore order. But Caterpillar headquarters is moving to Chicago, Illinois.

It was just two years ago, the company made a big announcement regarding the expansion of its downtown Peoria headquarters. At a news conference, held in Peoria at the Caterpillar Visitors Center and attended by some 250-people including Gov. Bruce Rauner, then CEO Doug Oberhelman was given a standing ovation when he announced, "Caterpillar will stay in Peoria." He went on to say they were definitely staying in Peoria and had no future plans to leave.

Oberhelman is no longer the CEO and the headquarters is moving to Chicago. No permanent site in the Chicago area has been selected to date. Caterpillar is one of Illinois’ largest companies. According to the new CEO, Jim Umpleby, the sales revenue of the company has fallen 40 per cent since 2012. They have closed 30 facilities around the world and eliminated 16,000 jobs.

One of the reasons for relocating the headquarters to Chicago is access to worldwide travel. Top executives fly worldwide to do business and the Peoria airport does not compete with Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Two-thirds of Caterpillar’s business is outside the United States. Like most large companies, globalization is a fact of life.

Joliet has already had its share of bad news from Caterpillar. At one time in the late 1970’s, the Joliet Caterpillar plant employed about 7,000 workers. There were about 770 jobs at the plant in 2015 when it was announced that approximately 230 jobs would be moved to Mexico by mid-2018. The lease on the plants current location expires in 2018. There is no word to date on a lease renewal.

There is no word at this time if this new development will have any direct effect on Joliet, but it is fascinating how the dots connect.

One last thing…It has been several years since I started writing the column “Wayne’s Words” for The Times Weekly. I’ve always tried to be fair, straight forward and factual. I rely on research, experience and first-hand knowledge of events. I generally try to present an account of items that are of local focus as they relate to occurrences that might affect our daily lives. Typically, the column piece generates between 500-700 words. It is usually categorized as opinion on the paper’s website. I looked up the definition of opinion. Generally, it includes judgement, attitude and viewpoint. I’m okay with all of that.

Apparently, only about six per cent of the population trust the media to tell the truth. That’s according to polls by the Gallup organization. I assume my column isn’t in the same league with the media included in the polling but I would like to put in my three or four cents. The press gets a special mention in the U.S. Constitution via the First Amendment. It conversely places a responsibility on the press (media) to give a true and accurate picture of what is happening in our country and the world. Most of the time they get it right. Seldom, it seems does the media find itself the opposition party. They reflect what is going on not creating it.

There may be only six per cent of the people that trust the media, but without it who are you going to get your information from? Whatever your news source is, try and balance it with different perspectives. No one is right all the time and no one is wrong all the time. Freedom relies on reliable, factual information. It’s in the Constitution.

Stay tuned…