Robservations on the media beat:
The Chicago Tribune, self-proclaimed for decades as “The World’s Greatest Newspaper,” on Friday endorsed Gary Johnson for president. A short time later, the Sun-Times wrote in its endorsement of Hillary Clinton: “A vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, a man who could not even pass a basic world geography test, is not a principled protest gesture. It is a retreat to the sidelines.”
Employees of the Chicago Reader are taking their case for higher wages, a new contract and greater support from owner Wrapports to the public. An online manifesto from veteran writer Ben Joravsky includes a timeline of award-winning journalism by the alternative weekly during years of continuous cutbacks. “The Reader is at a crossroads under the Wrapports regime — our very existence is threatened,” Joravsky wrote. “We need investment so the Reader doesn’t die of malnourishment.” Chicago News Guild will rally supporters at noon Thursday outside Sun-Times headquarters at 350 North Orleans Street. Former Governor Pat Quinn and Alderman Brendan Reilly will be among speakers. Jim Kirk, publisher and editor of the Sun-Times, said in a statement: “We have been upfront throughout our discussions with the Guild on a new contract. We believe that direct talk between management and the Guild leadership is more productive than negotiation through the media. The Reader remains a valuable source of news and information in Chicago. We deeply value the writers and columnists who contribute great content on a daily basis. And we remain confident that we can negotiate a reasonable new contract with the Guild leadership.”
Bob Secter, who accepted a buyout last year after two decades as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, has been named director of investigations at the Better Government Association. He replaces acting director Brett Chase, who continues with the investigative team of the nonprofit government watchdog agency. Secter was an assistant editor at the Sun-Times before joining the Tribune in 1995. He previously worked for the Los Angeles Times. Also joining the BGA as investigative journalists are former Tribune staffers Alejandra Cancino and Madison Hopkins. “I’m confident that Bob, Alejandra and Madison will enable us to elevate the scope and impact of mission-driven investigative and explanatory journalism aimed at informing the public, engaging the citizenry and encouraging government officials to work in the public interest,” Andy Shaw, president and CEO of the BGA, said in a statement.
It’s hard to think of anyone other than Neal Sabin when it comes to programming at WCIU-Channel 26. Sabin started at the Weigel Broadcasting flagship as general manager in 1994 and worked up to vice chairman of the company. This week Weigel Broadcasting named Steve Bailey, former director of programming and affiliate marketing at Media General, as head of local programming and creative at The U. “Steve will play a lead role as we continue to grow The U as a choice for local audiences,” Steve Farber, senior vice president of operations, said in a statement. “Our plans for Chicago include developing a new wave of programming choices on multiple platforms.”
WGN-Channel 9 isn’t ready to name a replacement yet for Robert Jordan, who retired with all due fanfare last week as weekend news anchor after 43 years at the Tribune Broadcasting station. Until then, various staffers will be filling in alongside longtime co-anchor Jackie Bange, according to news director Jennifer Lyons. Up this weekend: Tahman Bradley will be anchoring on Saturday; Sean Lewis will anchor at 5 p.m. Sunday, and Bange will anchor solo at 9 p.m. Sunday.
Look for bigger and better things soon for veteran Chicago sportscaster David Kaplan at ESPN Radio sports/talk WMVP AM 1000. After one year as host of “Kap & Co.” from noon to 2 p.m. weekdays, sources said he’s poised to increase his hours and perhaps team up with John “Jurko” Jurkovic and Carmen DeFalco, who currently air from 9 a.m. to noon. Despite the Chicago Cubs juggernaut on CBS Radio rival sports/talk WSCR AM 670, both Kaplan and Carmen & Jurko posted very strong numbers in key male demographics in the latest Nielsen Audio survey. P.S. Cubs post-season games will air in Chicago on both The Score and ESPN 1000.
CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 has cut its ties to Damon Ranger, a per diem photographer/editor who falsely claimed to have won an Academy Award, among other national honors. Ranger’s deception was exposed by Mancow Muller, who confronted the self-styled Chicago musician, songwriter and producer on the air. Shortly afterward, CBS 2 released this statement: “Mr. Ranger previously worked for CBS 2 [WBBM-TV], but is no longer employed by the station.” Ranger wrote in a Facebook post: “Unfortunately, I have allowed my excitement over certain projects to get the better of me; this has led to overstatements and exaggerations, which have now caused embarrassment to my colleagues and friends, and out of respect for them, and myself, I want to clarify certain matters. . . . I have been questioned about whether or not I am an Academy Award winner. I am not. I apologize for the confusion I caused regarding the issue. I misspoke some years back about having received the Award and I regret doing so. I do not wish to misrepresent myself any further.”
For two weeks in the summer of 1983 I worked alongside Agnes Nixon on the writing staff of “All My Children.” As rewarding as that experience was, it convinced this young newspaperman that he wasn’t cut out for fiction writing. Still it was an indescribable thrill to enter briefly the inner circle of the most prolific writer in daytime television history. In addition to her crowning achievements — “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” — Nixon’s credits included “Search for Tomorrow,” “As the World Turns,” “Guiding Light” and “Another World,” among others. It all began in Chicago when the 1944 Northwestern University graduate landed a job with Irna Phillips, the woman who created the genre of soap operas on radio. I once asked Nixon whether she believed she had achieved immortality through the thousands of hours of socially relevant daytime dramas she had created. “I don’t think so,” she told me. “Nothing lasts forever. That certainly isn’t what motivates me. I don’t want to be immortal, but I’d like to think I’m leaving things in better shape than when I arrived, [and] passing on something intangible. . . . I used to think when I’d finish a long-term story that I’d never be able to think of another one. Now I know that this is what I was meant to do.” Nixon died Wednesday at 93.