Adding to the generally strange atmosphere surrounding Conrad Black’s LongPen event Monday evening was the absence of just about anybody who’d made a serious effort at covering Black’s recent travails in Chicago. No Mary Vallis, no Theresa Tedesco. No Rick Westhead or Paul Waldie. I could go on. Instead, because it was a book signing, the papers sent general arts reporters (Michael Posner) or book reporters (Philip Marchand) or terrified greenhorns (somebody or other from the Post). Here was the opportunity for a reporter to stand in front of Conrad Black and ask a hard question that, given the circumstances, he was more or less duty bound to answer. The only journalist who bothered, besides the stiffly sycophantic Seamus O’Regan, was a talking head from Global, who asked Black if he thought his handwriting looked a little shaky. One suspects that more than anything else, the bureaucratic politics (and perhaps a lack of imagination) within the various organs of record dictated the coverage (“If it’s a book event, we must send the book reporter”). Too bad. A few more sparks might have even, in the end, sold more books.