In a big loss for readers of the Sun-Times and discerning viewers of television, Lori Rackl is stepping down as the newspaper’s last TV critic.
Rackl said Tuesday she has applied for a buyout under a sweeping cost-cutting plan offered to staffers of the financially troubled daily. Her last day on the job will be Friday.
“When management offered buyouts, it felt like the right time for me to pull the ripcord,” she said. “I don’t know where I’ll land. But I do know that, for the most part, it’s been a fun ride.”
An earlier post here Tuesday misstated no columnists or critics had applied for buyouts, according to sources at the Sun-Times. In fact Rackl was the only one.
“I hope enough people took the buyouts so those who may not have the luxury of leaving can keep their jobs,” Rackl said. “The newsroom is a lot smaller than when I got there in 2004. But it’s still full of hard-working, talented journalists asked to do more with less on a daily basis.”
With her departure, the Sun-Times is expected to eliminate the position of TV critic from its staff. The Chicago Tribune abolished the job in 2010 after the resignation of Maureen Ryan.
A graduate of Addison Trail High School and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Rackl joined the Sun-Times in 2004 after 11 years as a reporter at the Daily Herald. She was named travel editor in 2007 and promoted to TV critic in 2011. She is married to Sun-Times reporter Chris Fusco.
“I’ve been on the staff of a daily newspaper for more than 20 years,” Rackl said. “I’ve had a lot of beats over the course of my career: suburban government, consumer affairs, health, travel (my favorite) and, most recently, TV critic. I’ve also seen a lot of changes in the business — changes that made it clear to me that I probably won’t retire in the only industry I’ve ever known.
“I’m proud to have been a part of the paper, and I wish nothing but the best for my soon-to-be-former colleagues,” she added.