Daily Herald offers employee buyouts

Daily Herald

Employees of the Daily Herald are being offered voluntary buyouts to reduce staffing levels and operating expenses throughout the company, Paddock Publications announced Tuesday.

Staffers in all departments have until November 10 to apply for buyouts, which will provide one week of severance pay for each year of employment up to a maximum of 26 weeks, along with health benefits paid for three months. Continue reading

Robservations: Fox 32 anchor moves raise questions

Robin Robinson and Darlene Hill

Robservations on the media beat:

The Chicago chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists is questioning the termination of two African-American female news anchors at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32. Sources said leadership of the group this week called for a meeting with station bosses to discuss the handling of Darlene Hill, whose contract recently was not renewed after 23 years, and Robin Robinson, who was forced out in 2014 after 27 years. At issue is whether they were treated differently than white male counterparts. Dennis Welsh, vice president and general manager of Fox 32, did not respond to a request for comment Monday. There’s been no acknowledgement of Hill’s absence from Fox 32’s “Good Day Chicago” morning show since late September. Continue reading

Robservations: Jen Sabella leaves DNAinfo for The Onion

Jen Sabella (Photo: WTTW/Chicago Tonight)

Robservations on the media beat:

Jen Sabella resigned Thursday as deputy editor and director of social media at DNAinfo.com Chicago, the hyperlocal news source she helped start up in 2012. She’s joining The Onion in Chicago to work on a forthcoming website. “The last six years of my life have been pure magic thanks to the incredible team here, and watching the site become such a vital part of the Chicago media landscape has been incredible,” she told colleagues. Shamus Toomey, managing editor of DNAinfo, praised Sabella as “an outstanding leader, confidante, defender, cheerleader, fighter, innovator and motivator — a true Chicago journalist.” A South Side native and Columbia College graduate, Sabella previously was Chicago editor of Huffington Post and a wire reporter at the Sun-Times. She twice was named among the most powerful women in Chicago journalism by this blog. Continue reading

Robservations: Cheryl Burton marks 25 years at ABC 7

Cheryl Burton

Robservations on the media beat:

Break out the silver. It’s 25 years at WLS-Channel 7 for news anchor Cheryl Burton. The South Side native and University of Illinois graduate called it “an honor and blessing” to work at the top-rated ABC-owned station. She signed on in 1992 from KWCH, the CBS affiliate in Wichita, Kansas. “To be able to cover and report stories in the city where I was born and raised has been a priceless gift,” Burton, 54, said Wednesday. “ABC 7 has given me the opportunity to report on such historic events as the inaugurations of the first African American president and enabled me to travel the globe covering the opening of Oprah Winfrey’s prestigious school for girls in South Africa. But my most memorable moments have come from sharing stories of ordinary Chicagoans doing extraordinary things in the rich and diverse neighborhoods that have shaped my life.” Continue reading

Robservations: Sun-Times columnist roomed with congressman

Mark Brown (Photo: Chicago Newsroom)

Robservations on the media beat:

Luis Gutierrez

Let’s at least give Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown credit for disclosing forthrightly that he shared a hotel room and rental car expenses with Luis Gutierrez while covering the Democratic congressman’s trip to Puerto Rico last week. Brown called it “an admittedly unorthodox decision . . . to reduce the logistical difficulties of following [Gutierrez] around to hurricane-damaged locations on the island,” adding: “That arrangement would not normally pass ethical muster from a journalism standpoint, but I thought it was the best way to get the story in this situation.” Sorry, that doesn’t make it right. The Sun-Times never should approve a deal like that with any politician. If Brown couldn’t get another room, then I’d argue he shouldn’t have gone. Continue reading

Robservations: Tribune Media deal with Sinclair in FCC’s hands

Ajit Pai‏ and Newton Minow

Robservations on the media beat:

The Chicago-based parent company of WGN-Channel 9 and WGN AM 720 moved closer to its takeover by Sinclair Broadcast Group Thursday when stockholders of Tribune Media voted overwhelmingly to approve the controversial $3.9 billion deal. Now it’s up to the Federal Communications Commission, which recently paused its 180-day timeline for review of the merger to allow for more public comment. A growing chorus of advocacy groups has argued that the resulting behemoth — 233 television stations reaching 72 percent of U.S. households — would hurt media competition and consumers. Coincidentally, FCC chairman Ajit Pai‏ met Thursday in Chicago with Newton Minow, the powerhouse lawyer who chaired the FCC during the Kennedy administration. Afterward Pai tweeted: “Such an honor to meet Newton Minow, President Kennedy’s 1st @FCC Chairman (1961-63)! An amazing life & rich perspectives on law & policy.” I ran into Minow Thursday night at the Shriver National Center on Poverty Law dinner, but he kept his comments about the meeting off the record. Continue reading

Darrel Peters 1933-2017

Darrel Peters, whose name was once synonymous with “beautiful music” on Chicago radio, died Tuesday in Barrington. He was 84.

A Chicago native and prominent broadcast executive in the city and suburbs for more than 40 years, Peters was general manager of WLOO in its heyday in the 1970s as “FM 100,” a top-rated easy listening station known for lush instrumentals and unobtrusive hosts. Using automated tape reels, he created the FM 100 Plan, marketing and syndicating variations of beautiful music formats to more than 100 stations nationwide. Continue reading