Robservations: Sun-Times poised for ‘limited number’ of layoffs

Chicago Sun-Times

Robservations on the media beat:

Nykia Wright

They’re bracing for layoffs at the Sun-Times following an all-staff virtual meeting Friday with CEO Nykia Wright. An analysis of the company’s workforce will determine “a limited number of strategic staff reductions,” Wright said, although none will involve reporters, editors, visual journalists or other content curators and producers in the newsroom. “Economic stresses on the pre-COVID business model require us to more deliberately think about our future and the type of media company we will need to be to continue to educate and inform our readers — but also to grow,” she said. “We do not have a target number of employees in mind; instead we are looking to match the right people with the responsibilities needed to sustain ourselves in a post-COVID world.” Wright also told employees they will not be required to report to the office until January 2 at the earliest.

Joe Biden

No one could have been surprised that the Sun-Times endorsed Joe Biden for president. But the timing of the endorsement over the weekend — before the start of the Republican National Convention — may be without precedent. (Here is the link.) “Given the positions our editorial board has taken against a wide variety of Trump administration policies, we wanted to endorse Joe Biden as quickly as possible after he picked his running mate and accepted the Democratic nomination,” Chris Fusco, executive editor of the Sun-Times, told me. “Our editorial addresses why we think Biden and Kamala Harris make the best team for our country. Agree or disagree, we hope our readers appreciate our ability to be nimble and decisive.”

Steve Ruxton

It’s back to WGN 720-AM for Chicago newsman Steve Ruxton, who has joined the Nexstar Media Group news/talk station for the third time as an anchor/reporter. Mary Sandberg Boyle, general manager of WGN, confirmed the appointment Friday. “It’s really exciting to rejoin WGN Radio and the station’s excellent news team,” said Ruxton, who most recently worked for Cumulus Media news/talk WLS 890-AM. “WGN’s new owner and management team have really lit a fire under this legendary set of call letters.” He continues as a correspondent for the nationally syndicated financial news show “Business First TV.”

Adam Rhodes

Investigative reporter Adam Rhodes has been hired as social justice reporting fellow at the Chicago Reader. The newly created position is being funded by a one-year grant from the Field Foundation. With a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida and a master’s from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, Rhodes recently completed a fellowship with the Medill Investigative Lab. “We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Adam Rhodes as our first-ever social justice reporting fellow,” said Karen Hawkins, co-editor in chief of the Reader. “Adam brings local and national reporting chops, as well as experience in data journalism and court coverage, to strengthen our existing social justice work.”

Audrina Bigos

Audrina Bigos, news anchor and reporter for CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2, has been tapped to emcee the 2020 Golden Trumpet Awards, presented by the Publicity Club of Chicago. The virtual ceremony will be streamed live September 10 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. (Here is the link for tickets.) Now in their 61st year, the awards honor excellence in planning, creativity, execution and results measurement in public relations, marketing and communications campaigns and events.

Spike O’Dell

Inspired by his colleagues’ social media posts on National Radio Day Thursday, Spike O’Dell reflected on his decision to retire in 2008 as the morning star of WGN Radio. “I loved my job,” O’Dell wrote on Facebook. “I couldn’t wait to go in every day to work. It was honestly that good. A lot of people thought I was nuts to leave at the pinnacle of my career, but I have no regrets, and honestly believe I did the right thing at the right time. As I get older, I realize I accomplished what I wanted to do with the exception of a couple of things. At age 67, it’s becoming clear that I probably won’t get a chance to fly in to space. I thought I might actually. I also wish I would have completed college and received a degree in journalism. But . . .” O’Dell, who now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, was inducted in the first class of the WGN Radio Walk of Fame in 2014.

Brad Edwards

Recommended reading: Tracy Swartz’s Chicago Tribune profile of CBS 2 news anchor Brad Edwards reveals that he suffers from a rare but treatable form of cancer. (Here is the link.) In 2017, Edwards was diagnosed with large granular lymphocyte (LGL) leukemia. He told Swartz he gets his blood drawn every eight to 12 weeks, follows a healthy eating plan, exercises regularly and adheres to a medication regimen. The 41-year-old native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, joined CBS 2 as a general assignment reporter in 2012 and was promoted to principal news anchor in 2019.

Thursday’s comment of the day: Ken Owen: Ray [Cortopassi] is a former WRTV colleague and a good friend. He is humble, serious about journalism, and fun to be around — and watch. As a fellow Chicago native, I am happy for him and my hometown!