Robservations: Chicago Reader cutting back to biweekly publication

Chicago Reader

Robservations on the media beat:

Tracy Baim (Photo: GlitterGuts)

After 49 years as the city’s premier alternative weekly, the Chicago Reader is downsizing to a biweekly publication schedule. Reader publisher Tracy Baim cited a 90 percent drop in advertising revenue due to COVID-19 shutdowns for the cutback. “This was not an easy decision,” Baim said. “We wanted to focus on the current strengths of the paper. We did not have to lay off or furlough any editorial employees during the recent crisis, but it is clear there is still a difficult path to navigate in the coming months and years. This is the right time to focus on streamlining costs to keep our team intact, and to focus on new revenue sources.” There’s talk of a renewed focus on “digital content and storytelling.” New ownership of the Reader is in the process of converting to a nonprofit business entity under the recently formed Reader Institute for Community Journalism.

The Chicago Tribune and the Daily Herald are among the latest news organizations to capitalize the “B” in “Black” when referring to people. The style revisions follow similar moves by the Chicago Sun-Times and late last week by the Associated Press. “This decision, which applies across all news sites and newspapers in the Chicago Tribune Media Group, is the product of many newsroom conversations over many years,” Colin McMahon, editor-in-chief of the Tribune, wrote in a message to readers. “While this is an important change as it pertains to our coverage, we recognize that much more work remains regarding diversity and inclusion at Chicago Tribune, across Tribune Publishing, our parent company, and across the news media industry.”

Rob Sneed

Nexstar Media Group is shifting Rob Sneed, a reporter for its station in Columbus, Ohio, to WGN-Channel 9, where he’ll sign on as a general assignment reporter July 8. A Columbus native and graduate of The Ohio State University, Sneed has been with NBC affiliate WCMH in his hometown since 2017. “I am still in shock,” he said of the move. “Chicago is a top news city to work in. I am with the best of the best and I feel honored. God is good.” WGN news director Dominick Stasi called Sneed “a well-respected journalist and talented storyteller, with a passion for breaking news and in-depth reporting,” adding: “We’re happy to keep him in the Nexstar family, and excited to bring him to Chicago and to our team at WGN.”

Dennis DeYoung

Steve Cochran and Roe Conn are among radio personalities from around the country who appear in the video for “With All Due Respect,” the new single by Dennis DeYoung. (Here is the link — may be unsuitable for work.) The Chicago singer/songwriter (and founding member of Styx) takes aim at the news media with withering lyrics like these: “But all these know-it-alls/Meatballs and Barbie dolls/With breaking news and all the facts/Breaking news and all the facts/Breaking news and heart attacks/We come to realize/And shouldn’t be surprised/They’re hiding this behind their backs/They’re partisan hacks.”

Tom Joyner

Radio Hall of Famer Tom Joyner has confirmed that he suffered a mini-stroke at his home in Golden Beach, Florida. Joyner, 70, told it happened in late April while he was boxing with his trainer. “I was like everybody, in quarantine, but instead of just sitting in the house, being bored and stuff, I worked on my health because I figured what are the chances of me catching the virus and then after that, how can I enhance my chances of me beating the virus if I do catch it,” he said. The legendary “Fly Jock,” who retired in December, told the website he feels good.

Friday’s comment of the day: Scott Childers: The broadcast world is losing a great teacher. Harold Lee Rush was my first instructor when I attended Columbia College Chicago. In fact, our class visited Bob Wall and Harold just weeks before this situation broke. We had a front row seat into the events (that were able to be discussed) that led to Bob’s downfall. Harold kept it real and continued to be focused on his class, while all of this swirled around his morning show. And oh the stories he could tell about life, radio and his career! I learned much from Harold and consider him a valued mentor and great friend! Congrats on getting to slow down . . . just a bit.