Animal's erratic behavior touches off a Tribune inquiry into the plight of the all-but-forgotten Vietnam veteran who is treated much differently from servicemen in other wars. Lou, in trying to help Animal and the likeable Sutton, discovers that years after Vietnam, too many veterans are still unemployed or otherwise under strain from their experience.
Looking for a place to invest a $5,000 windfall, Lou gets a shocking look at white collar crime when he uncovers a clever financial scheme run by a sharp con man. He learns there are shady characters only too willing to put his money in their pockets, but has trouble convincing at least one victim ? Charlie Hume ? of what's going on.
After Lou sees an Immigration Department sweep of his favorite Mexican restaurant, the Tribune uncovers a grim and unsettling picture of what's happening to illegal aliens. At the same time, Lou has to cope with a new addition to the city room staff ? Mrs. Pynchon's spoiled niece ? who turns out to be ill-equipped for the job of copy girl.
The city is thrown into panic when the Tribune's star columnist writes a column that Lou fears could incite a serial killer to strike again. The reporter who covered the so-called "Samaritan" slayings years before is assigned to draw up a profile that might lead to the madman, and the staff fans out to follow his clues.
A mother, obsessed with tracking the hit-and-run driver who killed her son, arouses Rossi's fighting instincts and leads to a human interest story with an unexpected payoff. Meanwhile, after Lou and Mrs. Pynchon have separate encounters with hostile citizens, Billie is assigned to find out if there's a story in the use of cars as weapons.
A helpless old lady in a wheelchair is dumped in a county office because of a bureaucratic wrangle, and this sets the staff onto a searing Tribune expose of shoddy nursing home practices. Billie gets a job at a nursing home for a shocking insider's report on care for the elderly, while Lou learns from a retired hat maker that, in too many cases, this country's old people are regarded as non-persons.
The city room hears that a radical group plans to kidnap a VIP at a publishers' convention attended by Lou and other Tribune executives. Lou, a reluctant delegate at the convention, fends off the aggressive job-hunting tactics of flamboyant newsman Jack Riley as Rossi and Billie try to get a lead on the kidnapping report.
In a news-packed day, Lou feels the pressure as he sets up coverage of a tunnel cave-in and a human fly climbing a skyscraper, knowing that a resentful Donovan has been offered a better paying job. The hard pressed Lou also has to answer questions of a Swedish tour group, cope with a familiar kook (Mr. Dreyfus) who brings news of outer space, and find an assignment for a youthful city room intern.
Could an individual build an atomic bomb? Lou gets a terrifying answer when a terrorist threatens to detonate a nuclear device and provides the Tribune with detailed plans as proof. Facing the terrorist's deadline in checking out the story, Rossi has another personal problem: he's been dating Hume's daughter and knows his boss doesn't like her to get interested in any reporter ? especially Rossi.
A series of Skid Row stranglings turn out to have special meaning for Lou, who discovers his former doctor is now a bum, and for Rossi, who has his own reason for hating drunks. Lou is astonished to find that his once skilled surgeon is defiant about living on Skid Row, and Rossi for once tries to get out of working on a story.
Romance hits the Tribune, but not the hearts and flowers kid: Lou gets an unexpected offer from Susan, and Billie meets teenagers who have babies to escape from home. Rossi finds good reason to be cynical in the story of a rock singer being sued for community property by his former live-in girlfriend.
Lou is the only witness to a neighborhood murder and is mystified by the way the police handle the case, thereby discovering a touchy area of crime. At the same time, a fatal fire in a gay bar poses a tough question for Lou: should the newspaper publish the names of the victims, knowing people will be hurt by the story. Lou is also puzzled to see a uniformed cop working a homicide case and sends Rossi to find out why, with disturbing results.
The hard drinking husband of a popular female politician makes headlines while the Trib staff makes news itself in a gossip magazine. The Trib learns a hard lesson about what happens when private lives become public from Rossi's tough coverage of elected official, Bonita Worth, and Lou's firing of a resentful reporter.
After agreeing to be guest speaker at Rossi's journalism class, Lou learns his "students" are tough state prison inmates who are angered by the shutdown of their newspaper. While Lou bucks the prison administration to help the hostile inmate editor, Hume gets the job of running the Trib during the period Mrs. Pynchon is on jury duty, and it's a learning experience for all.
A naked man on a church steeple and the editor of a sleazy porno magazine put Lou in hot water on two fronts with a common bond. The Trib's religious editor, Marcus Prescott, warns Lou he'll stir up a hornet's nest by allowing Rossi's probe into a disturbed member of the wealthy United Pilgrim Crusade.
Billie gets into the headlines when her stories questioning a big company's clean air standards brings on a costly damage suit to the Trib. Corporation Chief, Curtis Folger, may have engineered an on-again, off-again deal to get the city to ease pollution restrictions. When Billie goes after proof, she lands herself and the Trib in trouble.
While helping test a new drug, Lou learns about the "publish or perish" research at a medical center with a publicity seeking director. Eager for new grants and honors, Dr. Duncan puts pressure on youthful scientist, Todson, to speed up his experiments. At the same time, another young man surprises Lou with his occupation: human guinea pig.
The unwilling Billie finds herself in the protective custody of a male chauvinist policeman because of what she knows in a grand jury case involving a popular game show host. Lou also learns about the irony of the law when he tries to be a Good Samaritan and painfully ends up as a target in a damage suit.
Art's cousin Andrew displays violent feelings against women. His mother wants him to check into a mental institution, which Andrew accepts. Meanwhile, parts of an erotic novel keep popping up on the Tribune's computer monitors.
Lou is intrigued by the closed restaurant down the street, which turns out to have been the scene of a famous murder 25 years earlier. Animal is sent in for pictures, and becomes friends with the reclusive owner, the woman who found the celebrity's body 25 years ago.
Rossi does a story on a child actress who is secretly unhappy about being deprived of a normal childhood and decides to run away. Lou tries to spend more time with a kid from his baseball team who is neglected by his divorced parents.