Susanna Homan, the high-profile Chicago media executive and celebrity journalist, was named editor-in-chief and publisher of Chicago magazine Friday in a move that reunites her with Tribune Publishing chairman Michael Ferro.
In her new combined role at Chicago, Homan replaces publisher Tom Conradi and editor Beth Fenner. Conradi is expected to continue with Chicago Tribune Media Group in another position. Fenner is out after more than four years at the monthly publication.
A Tribune Publishing spokeswoman declined to comment on Fenner’s departure.
If Homan’s appointment signals a change in the direction or focus of Chicago magazine, no one was saying so publicly Friday.
“Chicago magazine has a long history of award-winning journalism and I have a tremendous amount of respect for the brand,” Homan said in a statement. “I look forward to contributing to its growth as the region’s must-read publication, and continuing to establish a deep emotional connection with the audiences we serve.”
Homan’s appointment is the latest lightning-fast move by Ferro to put his mark on Tribune Publishing just five weeks after he took over as chairman. Earlier he combined the publisher and editor positions at the company’s other publications.
Chicago magazine employees, who recently relocated from Tribune Tower to Freedom Center in a cost-cutting move, were surprised by the news of Fenner’s ouster Friday. Some expressed concern that the line between advertising and editorial may be compromised under Homan, whose journalistic ethics came under scrutiny in the past.
Jim Kirk, publisher and editor-in-chief of Sun-Times Media, thanked Homan for her work and said Splash would continue to be published and distributed by the company.
“Susanna did a terrific job building a new fashion and culture brand from scratch in a very competitive marketplace,” Kirk said. “We wish her nothing but the best. We intend to continue to build and broaden Splash with the solid team already in place.”
Ferro hired Homan to launch Splash in 2012 shortly after he led the Wrapports investment group to acquire the parent company of the Sun-Times. Homan had spent four years before that as founding editor of Michigan Avenue Magazine for Niche Media Holdings. She already was well known to Sun-Times readers for her seven years as a freelance columnist, including her “Susanna’s Night Out,” a weekly page spotlighting fundraisers, society soirees and retail openings.
A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Homan also was a vice president at Chicago-based Cramer-Krasselt advertising. She previously was married to Tom Negovan, a reporter and fill-in news anchor at Tribune Media WGN-Channel 9.
(This blog is published independently under a licensing agreement with Chicago Tribune Media Group.)