Robservations on the media beat:
Are the new owners of the Chicago Tribune using the cover of coronavirus to gut the newspaper’s staff? That’s the word from the union representing editorial employees following a meeting with the company Monday. “Tribune Publishing wants to furlough half of the Chicago Tribune’s features and sports departments, plus an unspecified number of photographers, for three straight months,” the Chicago Tribune Guild executive board told its members. “It’s in addition to the furloughs and pay cuts they want to implement for everyone else. And they didn’t rule out longer furloughs in other areas of the newsroom, either.” Here’s the key: “We are fighting Alden now,” the board said, referring to New York-based hedge fund Alden Global Capital, now Tribune Publishing’s largest stockholder. “The economic downturn opened the door for them to try to gut us despite our union protections.”
“This American Life,” the weekly documentary series launched 25 years ago at Chicago Public Media WBEZ 91.5-FM, won the first Pulitzer Prize for audio reporting Monday. The series was cited for “The Out Crowd,” an episode produced in partnership with the Los Angeles Times and Vice News examining the impact of the Trump Administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policies. “The @PeabodyAwards were established in 1940 partly because the Pulitzers wouldn’t give out prizes to this newfangled medium called radio,” tweeted host and creator Ira Glass. “Today, finally, the @PulitzerPrizes corrected that, and gave out their first award to audio journalism. Thrilled we got it.”
Pulitzer Prize or not, it’s hard to imagine a better time to support WBEZ 91.5-FM as the Chicago Public Media news/talk station continues its outstanding coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today marks the culmination of its spring fundraising effort with a one-day, on-air pledge drive. The goal is to raise $400,000 in five days through pledges, donor matches, on-air spots and social media. Close to 60 percent of the station’s revenue comes from individual donors. As of Tuesday morning, WBEZ still had more than $250,000 to go.
Curbed Chicago, the real estate website that covered life in city neighborhoods, closed up shop after 10 years this week with the release of its two writers — editor Sara Freund and associate editor Jay Koziarz. “We’ve appreciated the support and enthusiasm over the years,” they told readers. “There’s nothing better than getting to write about Chicago.” Tweeted Streetsblog Chicago editor John Greenfield: “Streetsblog Chicago’s peer publication @curbedchicago has closed down, at least for the moment. Their transportation reporting has been on-point, and they’re good colleagues, so I’ll be rooting for them to relaunch in the future.”
Chicago Public Schools are teaming with four Chicago TV stations to provide “supplemental educational programming” for homebound students during the shutdown. Content presented across multiple grades will include math, science, English/language arts, social studies, and world languages, along with social and emotional learning. Starting Wednesday it will be carried from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays on ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7’s digital Channel 7.2. Starting May 11, it also will air from 7 to 8 a.m. weekdays on Univision/UniMás WXFT-Channel 60.1, and from 10 a.m. to noon weekdays on Weigel Broadcasting WMEU-Channel 48.1/WCIU-Channel 26.2. Window to the World Communications WTTW-Channel 11 will use its Channel 11.2 as a supplemental educational resource. Donors to the Children First Fund funded the initiative.
Monday’s comment of the day: Nilsa Valentin Reyna: Violeta [Podrumedic]’s cluelessness [on “Eric in the Morning”] most of the time is so irritating. How does a 27-year-old not know in which the direction the sun rises? I cringe every time she speaks and is proud that she she is clueless about certain things. She should be gone.