Robservations on the media beat:
Michael Sneed, whose gossip column has been a staple of the Sun-Times for 32 years, is reducing her workload. Starting this weekend, her Page 4 column will appear only on Sundays. It most recently has been running three days a week. “The rest of the week, we’ll capitalize on Sneed’s strength — getting news first — whether it’s Mike Ditka being hospitalized or today’s item about a letter to a Chicagoan penned by late President George H.W. Bush. We won’t wait a minute to post those scoops, running them both online and in print,” Sun-Times editor-in-chief Chris Fusco wrote in a letter to readers Friday. “Like the rest of us at the Sun-Times, Sneed is adapting to deliver you the news you need when you need it, and we’re hoping you continue to enjoy her work.” Sneed, 75, joined the Sun-Times in 1986 after 18 years at the Chicago Tribune and two years at City News Bureau. She also worked briefly at City Hall as press secretary under Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne.
Michael Arndt, who resigned last month as editor of Crain’s Chicago Business, has joined Edelman Chicago as an executive editor on its editorial team. In his new role he will enhance the communications marketing firm’s “content strategy and storytelling capabilities” and its business-to-business efforts. Before joining Crain’s as managing editor in 2010, Arndt worked for BusinessWeek as senior correspondent and senior editor, and for the Chicago Tribune as chief economics correspondent and Sunday business editor. He began his career at City News Bureau. “I had a blast at Crain’s,” Arndt told me. “I think I’ll have a blast, too, at Edelman. Smart people, impactful work at both.”
Now under independent ownership, the Chicago Reader has launched its first membership campaign to seek donations from its readers. “This is an experiment in whether a community-focused independent newspaper can survive in this environment,” publisher Tracy Baim wrote in an open letter. “We believe the answer is yes. So for the very first time, we’re asking readers and supporters to chip in — even if it’s just $1 — to show your love for the Reader.” (Here is the link.) The names of all donors will be published in a January edition, according to Baim, who also promised “exclusive perks” for donations of $48 or more. Earlier this year Sun-Times Media sold the alternative weekly to a local investment group headed by real estate developer Elzie Higginbottom and attorney Leonard Goodman.
Thursday was a red-letter day at Paddock Publications, owner of the Daily Herald. Doug Ray, chairman, publisher and CEO, announced that the company’s board had completed conversion to an employee-owned company under an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. It marks the end of Paddock family ownership that began in 1898 when Hosea C. Paddock bought the Palatine Enterprise. “It is now up to us to take advantage of the work of four generations of the Paddock family and management who have created a successful, locally-owned media company,” Ray told employees. “Business is challenging, but throughout our history we have found new ways to adapt to an ever-changing business model. Our employees have been a key part of that evolution and will be in the future.” In addition, Ray announced that all full and part-time employees would receive year-end bonuses this year. (Disclosure: This blog operates under an agreement with the Daily Herald. I am a full-time employee of Paddock Publications.)
Pat Curry, planning manager at WGN-Channel 9, is leaving the Tribune Broadcasting station after 21 years at the end of the month. He joined WGN as news assignment editor in 1997 after 13 years in the same role at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. “The thing that was really important to me was the passion that I saw in other people, and that infected me,” Curry once said. “Because people who are in this business are passionate about it. They argue, they get under your skin, they drive you crazy. . . . I know I drive people crazy, but I think I’m fair.”
Thursday’s comment of the day: Bernie Cicirello: What fond memories I have of “Chicago Ed” Schwartz, a friendly, entertaining voice in an otherwise long, dreary night. Thanks, WBBM, for bringing part of his warmth back, even for a short time.