Robservations: Medill to launch Metro Media Lab to boost local news

Medill School of Journalism

Robservations on the media beat:

Flush with a $1 million grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism announced plans Wednesday to launch a major initiative to fortify local news in Chicago. The Metro Media Lab will be created “to help local news organizations better engage with citizens; provide quality, solutions-oriented journalism; and strengthen the sustainability of local news organizations through research, training and student-produced storytelling in partnerships with Chicago outlets,” according to the university. The new program will complement the Medill Local News Initiative, a research and development project launched in 2018. Tim Knight, the former president and CEO of Tribune Publishing who became president and CEO of the McCormick Foundation earlier this year, said in a statement: “This investment in Northwestern’s Metro Media Lab will help broaden and deepen public affairs reporting to more inclusively and sustainably serve the region’s diverse communities.” Continue reading

Daily Herald’s Madhu Krishnamurthy to lead Chicago Headline Club

Madhu Krishnamurthy

As the Chicago Headline Club marks its 100th year, Daily Herald reporter Madhu Krishnamurthy is stepping up to lead the nation’s largest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Krishnamurthy is succeeding Robert K. Elder as president of the nonprofit organization which promotes ethical journalism and the public’s right to know.

“There’s no one better to lead the Chicago Headline Club into its second hundred years than Madhu,” said Elder, chief digital officer at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “She’s a passionate, engaged journalist and natural leader.” Continue reading

WBEZ cuts 12 jobs, ends production deal with ‘Sound Opinions’ (but the show will go on)

Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot

Facing a 20 percent revenue decline in the wake of the pandemic shutdown, the nonprofit parent company of public radio news/talk WBEZ 91.5-FM today announced the layoffs of 12 employees and the termination of its production agreement with the weekly rock music talk show “Sound Opinions.”

Although it no longer will be produced by Chicago Public Media, “Sound Opinions” will continue as an independent production airing on WBEZ and distributed to about 150 other public radio stations nationwide. It also will continue as a weekly podcast. Continue reading

WIND’s Amy Jacobson wins battle to cover Pritzker press conferences

Amy Jacobson

In what supporters are hailing as a victory for press freedom, Amy Jacobson has won her battle to attend Governor J.B. Pritzker’s media briefings as a journalist.

Jacobson, who co-hosts mornings on Salem Media news/talk WIND 560-AM with Dan Proft, sued Pritzker and his press secretary, Jordan Abudayyeh, earlier this month for barring Jacobson from daily press conferences. Continue reading

Robservations: WGN Radio weighing afternoon comeback for Garry Meier

Garry Meier

Robservations on the media beat:

Roe Conn

It’s been more than five years since Garry Meier was replaced by Roe Conn as afternoon personality at news/talk WGN 720-AM. Now Meier, 70, may be on his way to reclaiming his old job. Sources confirmed Monday that Sean Compton, the Nexstar Media Group executive vice president overseeing WGN, is talking with the Radio Hall of Famer about returning to the station to replace Conn, 56, whose contract is up at the end of the year. Once partnered with Steve Dahl, Meier spent eight years as Conn’s afternoon co-host at news/talk WLS 890-AM before he quit in a bitter salary dispute in 2004. He’s been gone from terrestrial radio since 2014 when his five-year solo run ended at WGN. In 2016 Meier launched a subscription podcast. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, WGN ranked eighth in afternoons with a 4.2 percent share. Overall the station was tied for third with a 5.2 share. Continue reading

Sun-Times joins move to spell ‘Black’ and ‘Brown’ with capital B

Chicago Sun-Times

The Chicago Sun-Times became the latest news organization to revise its style guide Monday by capitalizing the words “Black” and “Brown” when referring to “a culture, ethnicity or community of people.”

The style change, announced in an email to staff, follows similar moves by The Los Angeles Times, The USA TODAY Network, BuzzFeed News, NBC News, MSNBC and others. Continue reading

Oprah to bring pomp and circumstance to Chicago’s virtual graduation Sunday

Oprah Winfrey

Nine Chicago television stations are onboard to broadcast a star-studded virtual graduation ceremony for the city’s 35,000 high school seniors. Airing at 1 p.m. Sunday, it’s billed as “Graduation 2020: For Chicago. By Chicago.”

Hosted by Miguel Cervantes, star of the musical “Hamilton” in Chicago, the live one-hour special will feature a commencement address by Oprah Winfrey and appearances by performing artists (including hip hop star Common and Katie Kadan of “The Voice”), professional athletes and other celebrities. Continue reading

Robservations: CBS 2 wins Peabody Award for Dave Savini series

Dave Savini

Robservations on the media beat:

CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 won a Peabody Award Wednesday for “Unwarranted,” reporter Dave Savini’s ongoing investigation of Chicago police conducting raids on the wrong houses. “Through exhaustive interviews, surveillance of video footage from nearby buildings, and hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests, Savini uncovered findings that range from careless to callous,” the judges said, citing the series for its “tenacity, thoroughness and impact.” Saying he was “honored, thrilled and grateful” for the recognition, Savini wrote on LinkedIn: “In the end we uncovered hundreds of negative raids and ultimately dozens of children would tell us their stories. A new law and policy were created but it’s not over.” Also among this year’s Peabody Award winners was “Surviving R. Kelly,” Lifetime’s blockbuster series on women who survived alleged sexual abuse from Chicago-based R&B superstar R. Kelly. Continue reading