Robservations on the media beat:
A chorus of powerful voices has joined the outcry over the survival of The Chicago Reporter. A letter signed by 80 prominent civic, religious, advocacy and community leaders calls on the nonprofit Community Renewal Society to resume publication of the Reporter and restore its editorial independence. (Here is the link.) The fate of the 48-year-old investigative news organization has been in limbo since Fernando Diaz was ousted as editor-in-chief and publisher. The loss of the Reporter “would leave the metropolitan area without crucial reporting and data that we rely upon in our efforts for equity and justice,” the letter said. Noting that no new content has been published since September 15, Thom Clark, co-founder of Community Media Workshop/Public Narrative, said: “Any halt in publication damages the Reporter’s reputation and its ability to function as an independent, professional news organization.” The uproar comes on the heels of an open letter from more than 100 current and former employees also fighting to save the Reporter. Waltrina Middleton, executive director of Community Renewal Society, dismissed the controversy as “manufactured hysteria” and said the Reporter was “restructuring.”
Owners of the Sun-Times have contributed more than $1.3 million to the reelection campaign of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, whom the newspaper’s editorial board has endorsed. But they’ve been less than transparent about their financial support, according to a former Sun-Times columnist. “You won’t find a word about that in either the newspaper’s story about the fundraising race in the Cook County state’s attorney election or its editorial board’s endorsement of Foxx,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Konkol wrote Wednesday on Patch.com/Illinois. (Here is the link.) In the piece, Konkol also called out a couple of Sun-Times writers for not being more revealing about their prior work in government and organized labor.
Brian Phillips, host on Cumulus Media alternative rock WKQX 101.1-FM, has launched “The History of Alternative,” a weekly feature airing from 8 a.m. to noon Sundays. In addition, 101 WKQX’s James VanOsdol and Jon Manley are co-hosting “The History of Alternative” podcast, with each episode focusing on a specific topic, special guest or concept. (Here is the link.) Both the Sunday show and the weekly podcast are outgrowths of a five-week special that aired nine hours a day through October 7 and spotlighted 2,986 alternative songs.
Sandra Guy, reporter for the Sun-Times and adjunct professor of journalism at DePaul University, has joined Cascade Communications, a Chicago-based public relations agency, as content strategist. A native of Blountville, Tennessee, and graduate of Emory & Henry College, Guy is pursuing a master’s degree in public policy studies at the University of Chicago. She’s a former president of the Chicago chapter of the Association for Women Journalists.
Gavin Maliska, former managing editor of Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32, has been hired as news director of WEEK, the NBC affiliate in Peoria. Until 2019 Maliska spent three years in the Mississippi Delta area, first as general manager and news director of four stations in Greenville and later as a reporter and managing editor of the Greenwood Commonwealth in Greenwood. Earlier Maliska worked for stations in Detroit, Indianapolis and Orlando, among other cities. Before shifting to TV news, the Northern Illinois University graduate worked as deputy business editor for the Sun-Times and Sunday editor of The Daily Herald.
Chicago Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens, who was hospitalized after contracting COVID-19, announced she’s taking a medical leave while working to recover from the illness, which damaged her heart. “I’m feeling a whole lot of everything right now and I might write about it all someday or I might not, but the overwhelming thing I feel and want to share right now is gratitude,” she wrote on Facebook. “I feel very lucky. More later.” Stevens, 45, a 23-year veteran of the newspaper, is married to Tribune film critic Michael Phillips.
Heartfelt condolences to Chicago radio legend Ron Britain on the loss of his beloved wife, Peach Britain, as she was known to all. Helen Louise “Peach” Magel died Monday at a hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, after falling ill at home Sunday. She was 83. The native of Fostoria, Ohio, once worked as vice president and director of the travel center at CRT NationsBank in Chicago, and owned an antique shop in Cincinnati. Married to Britain for 62 years, she also is survived by their son Mark Magel.
Wednesday’s comment of the day: Cisco Cotto: Can someone be crushed and elated by the same Feder article? Jennifer [Keiper] is so talented and is going to be a huge asset at CBS News Radio, but I’ll miss seeing my good friend so often.