Robservations on the media beat:
Under pressure from their bosses to boost social media traffic, reporters at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 may be going too far. Exhibit A is Anita Padilla, a 20-year veteran of Chicago television news. Since Thursday, Padilla has drawn more than 25,000 views to Facebook Live videos she’s been posting about Semaj Crosby, the 16-month-old girl who was found dead in a Joliet Township home. Acknowledging that much of her information was “unofficial” and “unconfirmed,” and included “things I can’t say on the air,” Padilla has been riffing in the videos on who’s to blame and how she feels about the crime. Grisly rumors she cited that the victim was found “stuffed in a couch” were specifically refuted by the Will County Sheriff’s Office. It may be great clickbait, but Padilla’s speculation on the actions and motives of potential suspects (before any charges by police) may come back to haunt Fox 32.
Dakarai Turner, who once worked as an intern at Fox 32, is returning to the station as a general assignment reporter, starting May 8. A native of Seattle and graduate of DePaul University, Turner most recently was a reporter at WMAR, the ABC affiliate in Baltimore, and WLTX, the CBS affiliate in Columbia, South Carolina. Also joining Fox 32 as a freelance reporter is Michele Fiore, who has been working for WTMJ, the NBC affiliate in Milwaukee. She’s currently on her second stint as a reporter for CBS Radio all-news WBBM AM 780/WCFS FM 105.9. The Northern Illinois University graduate also worked for Tribune Broadcasting CLTV.
Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick, who’s been a provocative contributor to Newcity, is calling it quits as a columnist for the Chicago arts and culture magazine. He’s chosen to discontinue writing his “Dime Stories” essays after six years, according to editor and publisher Brian Hieggelke. “We hope it’s just a hiatus rather than a permanent retirement, but he’s got plenty of other ways to stay busy, from making his art to acting in the television series ‘Patriot’ on Amazon to running his art gallery, Adventureland,” said Hieggelke, who recently converted Newcity from weekly to monthly publication.
Kathy Bergen retired Friday after 25 years as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. “So grateful for being able to do work I loved and to do it in collaboration with so many talented, energetic, committed friends and colleagues,” she wrote in an email. “I will miss this place and all of you more than I can express.” A graduate of Highland Park High School and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Bergen previously worked for Crain’s Chicago Business, Pioneer Press and the Rockford Register-Star.
David Axelrod, the former Chicago journalist, political consultant and White House senior advisor, has been named recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Publicity Club of Chicago. He also will serve as keynote speaker at the group’s 58th annual Golden Trumpet Awards June 1 at the Palmer House Hilton. Axelrod now heads the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago and serves as senior political commentator for CNN.
Colleagues are remembering Kelly Seaton as pioneer among women in the executive suites of Chicago radio. As vice president and general manager of the former WFYR from 1989 to 1991, she led the way for others. Seaton, who also served as general sales manager of news/talk WGN AM 720 and WLS AM 890, died April 5 in West Des Moines, Iowa, after a series of illnesses. “I’ve never run into a problem as far as being a woman in this industry,” she once said. “Maybe that has something to do with the fact that if you don`t think something is a problem, then maybe it doesn`t have to be one.” Before retiring, Seaton worked for LCI, Starcom/GM Planworks and Select Marketing Group.
Bob Walsh, a genuine prince of a guy, came up the sales ranks of WMAQ-Channel 5 to become vice president and general manager of the NBC-owned station in the 1970s before being named president of the NBC Owned Stations Group and executive vice president of NBC. Walsh died at his home in Wilmette April 23 of complications from Parkinson’s disease at 88. Though he made it to the top of the Peacock Network during the golden era of Grant Tinker & Co., Walsh never forgot his roots or his friends back home in Chicago. “Bob was a good guy, and he did love Chicago,” recalled former NBC 5 communications chief Nick Aronson. “I have nothing but fond memories of him.”