Robservations on the media beat:
Citing pressure from his bosses to ease off criticism of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, WVON 1690-AM morning host Maze Jackson resigned last week, taking co-host Todd Stroger and producer Sonia Escobar with him. “The long and short of it is I was censored by station management and told that I could no longer discuss the mayor, anything that could be connected with her, and to cut off any callers that were critical of her,” Jackson told me. “I could not accept the censorship, so I chose to resign.” Jackson and Stroger promptly turned up on time-brokered gospel station WBGX 1570-AM, where their show airs from 6 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday (and streams on Facebook and YouTube). Jackson, a political consultant, strategist and former lobbyist, had hosted mornings on WVON since 2017. Stroger, the former Cook County Board president, joined him as co-host in 2019. Melody Spann Cooper, chairman of Midway Broadcasting and general manager of WVON, confirmed that Jackson and Stroger “resigned over editorial and content issues with management,” and said she expects to announce a new morning show soon. In the interim, Ernest B. Fenton, an attorney and longtime contributor to the news/talk station, has been filling in from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays.
Forty writers, editors and designers employed by the syndication unit of Tribune Publishing became the latest group of journalists in the company to unionize. The newly formed Tribune Content Guild, affiliated with The NewsGuild-CWA, announced plans Monday to seek recognition from the company. “Our goal is simple: Ensuring the integrity of our newsrooms and well-being of our co-workers so that, amid industry upheaval and uncertainty, we continue to produce and provide the quality journalism our clients and their communities trust,” the union said in a statement. Chicago-based Tribune Content Agency services more than 2,000 media and digital information publishers worldwide.
John Lampinen, senior vice president and editor of the Daily Herald, will be among participants in a Zoom panel discussion on “Building Trust — and Defending Journalists and Journalism” from 10 to 11:30 a.m. July 23. The virtual event will be hosted by the Northern Illinois Press Association. (Here is the link to register.) Other panelists will include Joy Mayer, founder of the Trusting News project, Raymond J. Pingree, professor at Louisiana State University, and Susan Benkelman, director of accountability journalism at the American Press Institute.
In another sign of the times, iHeartMedia Chicago has dropped the word “urban” to describe the formats of its Black-oriented stations. WGCI 107.5-FM, formerly identified as “urban contemporary,” is now labeled “hip-hop,” and WVAZ 102.7-FM, formerly known as “urban adult-contemporary,” is now being called “R&B.” Matt Scarano, president of iHeartMedia Chicago, declined to comment on the change, but insiders said the euphemism “urban” was seen as an outdated relic. Other iHeartMedia stations across the country also are quietly scrubbing the term, according to Rolling Stone.
Monday’s comment of the day: Jon Guiney: So NBC 5 can’t even issue a factual correction? According to my own checking, the interim police chief [of Aurora, Colorado] is Vanessa WILSON. The correction claims that she is Vanessa WILLIAMS, who, last I knew, is a former Miss America, talented singer, and co-star of “Ugly Betty.” . . . And now they finally fixed that, but I don’t see an apology for the apology.