Robservations on the media beat:
The original INC. column, at its best a catty mix of celebrity news and juicy gossip, was a popular staple of the Chicago Tribune for 20 years until its demise in 2001. The latest version lasted less than two. On Tuesday Tribune editors pulled the plug on the page 3 Chicago INC. franchise and reassigned its trio of reporters. Kim Janssen will work on “strategic newsroom analytics.” (“This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said Janssen, who recently got an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with a concentration in econometrics and statistics. “It’s why I went to [business] school, so I’m excited.”) Tracy Swartz will cover entertainment (including Chicago-related news on television and movies) for the arts and entertainment section, and Phil Thompson will report on sports and pop culture for the sports section.
An even bigger loss on the celebrity beat was the recent departure of Shia Kapos from the Sun-Times. Kapos always delivered great scoops, and there were days when her column was the best thing in the paper. It’s nice to see she’s still blogging — Taking Names at ShiaKapos.com — and freelancing for Chicago magazine. The former Crain’s Chicago Business columnist also has returned to writing financial news — this time as a full-time Chicago reporter for the online subscription publications Dealreporter and Activistmonitor.
Tribune newsroom employees have given tronc bosses until 11 a.m. today to voluntarily recognize the newly formed Chicago Tribune Guild as their collective bargaining agent. If the company fails to do so, the unit will file signature cards with the National Labor Relations Board seeking a union authorizing election. The Guild claims more than 85 percent of employees have signed on. Bruce Dold, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Tribune, said: “We are reviewing the request of the Chicago Tribune Guild. We believe we can best build on the Chicago Tribune heritage and trust with readers by working together as an organization. We will continue to work toward our common goal of ensuring that the Chicago Tribune is a leading source for news and information, whatever the outcome.”
Former Tribune investigative reporter Peter Matuszak has been hired as director of public affairs for the office of Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers. “Mr. Matuszak’s extensive experience communicating complex financial concepts to engage a broad audience make him an ideal addition to our team,” Summers said in a statement. Matuszak most recently was press secretary for State Senator Kwame Raoul’s successful campaign for the Democratic nomination for Illinois attorney general. Before working at the Tribune, where he covered government finance, Matuszak served as a senior policy analyst at the Civic Federation. He was among reporters laid off by the Tribune in October.
We now know more about McCormick Media, the new company buying Michael Ferro’s 26 percent stake in tronc. Front man Sargent Morris McCormick-Collier (who’s changing his name legally to Sargent McCormick effective June 11, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) is backed by Chicagoan John Lynch, former CEO of the San Diego Union-Tribune, and Clancy Woods, a longtime radio executive with ties to Chicago. The group said it may seek to increase its $208.6 million investment in the parent company of the Tribune. “[McCormick Media and its backers] are engaging in discussions with one or more significant stockholders of [tronc] to determine if [McCormick] and such stockholders may desire to potentially engage in any such actions on a cooperative basis,” the company wrote in the SEC filing.
Paddock Publications, parent company of the Daily Herald, expanded its board of directors Tuesday with the addition of two new members. Scott Stone, president and chief operating officer, and Stuart Paddock III, senior vice president/director of digital and information technologies, were elected at the annual shareholders meeting. “I know ownership has a great deal of confidence in Scott and Stu, knowing that Scott’s operational responsibilities and Stu’s digital background will add value to the Paddock board,” Doug Ray, chairman, publisher and CEO, told employees. “At this time of digital convergence, they will help guide key initiatives and provide direction for senior management in developing others.” (This blog operates under an agreement with the Daily Herald. I am a full-time employee of Paddock Publications.)
Tuesday’s comment of the day: Walter Jacobson: The empty front page of the S-T sure grabbed my attention, which is what marketing is supposed to do, no? It led me to read and think about what was on page 2, which is what the paper wanted me to do, no? Uniquely creative, like what’s going on inside the S-T. Cheers to the alderman [Edwin Eisendrath]. I, for one, wish him well.