The first freshly dead body I ever saw lay in the back of a police vehicle, an African-American teenager who had tried to shoot an off-duty cop. He missed, and got shot by the cop instead.

For the City News Bureau of Chicago, that was a story. But not every shooting death was news in 1982. There were 670 homicides in Chicago that year, and City News judged a large number of them “cheap.”

That’s right — “cheap.” It was news slang for an event that was not worth a story. It was also a ghastly way to describe a lost life, even in the hard-bitten argot of City News.

The notion of a “cheap” death came to mind after the weekend carnage of 74 shootings and 12 deaths in Chicago. Those deaths made headlines, but largely because there were so many of them.

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David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative journalism and policy advocacy.

Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.

Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.