Robservations on the media beat:
Will history repeat itself? The last time a tronc newspaper unionized, the company quickly sold it and got out of town. That was in February at the Los Angeles Times. On Wednesday Chicago Tribune newsroom employees officially announced their bid for union recognition. Tronc’s response? Nothing more than a perfunctory memo to staff from publisher and editor-in-chief Bruce Dold: “Everyone in Chicago Tribune management has the utmost respect for the decisions you make and for your rights on this issue.” As was the case in L.A., a resounding union victory here could be the final impetus for tronc chairman-in-exile Michael Ferro and CEO Justin Dearborn to call it quits and cash out. I’m willing to bet that’s just what they’ll do.
Diana Gutierrez, a multimedia journalist at WBND in South Bend, Indiana, has been hired as a reporter for “The Jam,” the weekday morning news and talk show on Weigel Broadcasting WCIU-Channel 26. The Chicago native and DePaul University graduate began as a programming intern at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. “Joining ‘The Jam’ fam is beyond amazing,” Gutierrez said in a statement. “I look forward to hitting the streets each morning and bringing our viewers news that matters to the community.”
Brad Hamm announced Wednesday he’s stepping down as dean of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. After taking a one-year sabbatical, he said he plans to rejoin Medill as a tenured journalism professor. Hamm told the Daily Northwestern the timing of his decision was not related to recent accusations of bullying and harassment by a group of women (dubbed “Medill Me Too”) against Alec Klein, director of the Medill Justice Project. Hamm was named Medill dean in 2012 after seven years as dean of Indiana University’s School of Journalism.
Former Chicago Tribune TV critic Maureen Ryan is leaving the trade paper Variety, where she’s chief TV critic. “I’m going to freelance, travel a bit and also I’m planning to write a book about TV shows that have had a major impact on me, personally and professionally,” she told CNN’s Brian Stelter. “Lately I’ve wanted to stretch my wings and take on some new creative challenges, and I can’t wait to dive into all of that. I may expand the array of things I’ll be doing, but there’s no way I’ll stop covering television.” Ryan, a product of Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, resigned in 2010 after 13 years at the Tribune, where she’d written about TV since 2004. She joined Variety in 2015 from the Huffington Post.
A memorial visitation will be held April 21 for Jerry Minkkinen, retired executive director of the Chicago News Guild. Family and friends will gather from 2 to 6 p.m. at Ahlgrim & Sons, 330 West Golf Road in Schaumburg. Minkkinen, who died last week at 74, led the local newspaper union and served as chief negotiator for editorial employees at the Sun-Times and other area publications from 1976 to 2009.
Wednesday’s comment of the day: Albert Balcer: What a wonderful work environment it must be at the Tribune! Congrats to the management team for frustrating their employees and not communicating appropriately.