Robservations on the media beat:
Window to the World Communications, parent company of WTTW-Channel 11 and WFMT 98.7-FM, alerted employees this week to the discovery of a data breach in its computer system believed to have occurred over nearly a two-year period. Investigations by a law firm and forensic accounting firm determined that emails and personal information of approximately 40 staffers were hacked between December 2018 and August 2020. On Tuesday a company representative confirmed there was “unusual activity relating to an employee email account that may have impacted current and former employee information,” adding: “There is currently no evidence that this information has been misused as a result of this activity.” A data security company has been retained to provide employees with identity monitoring at no cost for two years.
The union representing editorial employees at the Chicago Tribune and six other Tribune Publishing newspapers demanded the removal Tuesday of three members of the company’s board who are affiliated with Alden Global Capital. Last week the New York-based hedge fund offered to buy Tribune Publishing and take it private, raising concerns about draconian cuts to newsrooms. Officials of The NewsGuild-CWA said the three Alden directors — Randall Smith, Christopher Minnetian and Dana Goldsmith Needleman — violated securities laws by failing to notify shareholders of the takeover bid properly. “Alden is treating Tribune shareholders with the same disrespect it has for its employees, the newspapers they own and the communities they serve,” said NewsGuild president Jon Schleuss. An Alden spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that the union “has its facts wrong.” Tribune Publishing declined to comment.
Chris Boden and Nick Gismondi will host “Blackhawks Live,” a one-hour weekly show featuring in-depth analysis and news about the Chicago Blackhawks on Nexstar Media Group news/talk WGN 720-AM. It will premiere at 7 p.m. this Monday and air on Monday or Tuesday nights throughout the upcoming season. “This is going to be a must-listen for Blackhawks fans,” said WGN sports director Dave Eanet. “WGN listeners already know Chris and his knowledge of the Blackhawks, and we’re thrilled to welcome Nick and his Hawks expertise. Together they’ll deliver an insider perspective on everything from the players to the games.” WGN continues as the radio home of the Blackhawks under a multiyear deal.
Two new reporters have been added to the expanding Midwest newsroom staff of ProPublica, the award-winning nonprofit investigative news organization. They’re Anna Clark, an independent journalist and author from Detroit who’s on the faculty of Alma College, and Jeremy Kohler, an investigative reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and adjunct journalism instructor at Washington University. Both start Monday. “We are thrilled to have Anna and Jeremy join our Midwest newsroom,” said Louise Kiernan, ProPublica Midwest editor. “Their deep knowledge of their communities and passion for investigative journalism will nee great assets to our team.”
Lizzie Schiffman Tufano, director of audience engagement and special projects at the Sun-Times, has been named director of digital growth. Tufano, a Chicago area native and graduate of Lyons Township High School and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, previously was senior editor of DNAinfo Chicago. She joined the Sun-Times as director of news planning and strategy in 2018. Promoted to her former position is Alice Bazerghi, who had been Tufano’s deputy. Bazerghi, a Boston University graduate and former producer at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, joined the Sun-Times as digital content producer in 2018. “In 2021 we are going to focus on our readers and digital growth like never before,” said Sun-Times interim editor-in-chief Steve Warmbir.
Tuesday’s comment of the day: Mike Goldman: If I wanted syndicated programming, the Internet is chock-full. To me, live and local means there’s somebody down the street talking to me through the radio. They can relate to me and my town through local knowledge and shared experiences.