Robservations: Is Alden on the move at Tribune Publishing?

Chicago Tribune

Robservations on the media beat:

Staffers at the Chicago Tribune are bracing for bad news — but hoping for a miracle. Today marks the end of the standstill agreement for Alden Global Capital, the New York-based hedge fund that owns 33 percent of Tribune Publishing shares. That means Alden is now free to increase its stake in the company — including the possibility of acquiring the 24 percent held by Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner of the Los Angeles Times. As majority stockholder, Alden would be free to bleed the company dry through sweeping layoffs and other cutbacks to vital journalism. “I would love our team to be remembered as the team that saved the newspaper business,” Alden’s managing director, Heath Freeman, told the Washington Post in an interview last month. The last guy who made that claim was Michael Ferro, who wound up selling his shares in Tribune Publishing to Alden.

Katie Kim

Katie Kim is calling it quits as an investigative reporter and weekend morning news anchor at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. She’s moving back to southern California to be closer to her family. Kim joined NBC 5 in 2014 from KRQE, the CBS affiliate in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her last day here will be August 16. No decision has been made on a replacement as weekend morning anchor, according to Frank Whittaker, station manager and vice president of news at NBC 5.

Irv Leavitt

Irv Leavitt, who covered the North Shore for Pioneer Press for nearly three decades, just launched a new online column called Honest Context, focusing on “politics, business, life and truth, with a sense of humor.” (Here is the link.) Since he was laid off by Tribune Publishing’s Pioneer Press unit in 2017 Leavitt had been writing a weekly column for Chronicle Media. That gig ended earlier this month when Chronicle dropped all of its freelance writers.

Todd Manley

Todd Manley’s EarSight Studios has been tapped by Crain’s Chicago Business to enhance its audio strategy, including the podcast production of “Crain’s Daily Gist” with Amy Guth. Manley, former station manager and vice president of content at news/talk WGN 720-AM, launched the media consulting company earlier this year. “We are thrilled to partner with Todd to help us grow our audience in audio,” said Jim Kirk, publisher and executive editor of Crain’s Chicago Business. “We’ve had tremendous success with ‘The Daily Gist’ since its debut last year, and we expect even stronger growth with Todd’s production help.’’

Chicago Journalists Association

“Journalism Jobs Outlook in the Era of COVID-19,” a virtual event hosted by the Chicago Journalists Association, will bring together top industry professionals via Zoom from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight. (Here is the link to register.) Panelists will include Hugo Balta of WTTW, Ken Doctor of Newsonomics, Jennifer Halperin of Columbia College Chicago, Mandy Hofmockel of Journalism Jobs Newsletter, Kyle Pope of Columbia Journalism Review, and Shamus Toomey of Block Club Chicago.

Jarrett Payton

Jarrett Payton will host “GN Sports: Voices for Change,” a half-hour special featuring Chicago athletes and police discussing racial inequality and the social justice movement, at 7 p.m. Wednesday on Nexstar Media Group WGN-Channel 9. Among Payton’s guests will be Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown, Jason Heyward of the Cubs, Sam Acho, formerly of the Bears, and Diamond DeShields of the Sky.

Monday’s comment of the day: Jason Dunford: It took me a little bit to get used to Joe Donlon. Obviously it’s tough coming in from out of market and never having been here, but I came to really enjoy his delivery. It will be tough to replace him and hopefully they can find someone homegrown. Maybe they can pick from the talent that has been recently let go or snag some good talent from another station (cough Alexis McAdams). No one said it had to be a male/female anchor crew.