Robservations on the media beat:
Just weeks before the planned expansion of “NewsNation,” the Chicago-based cable news operation on WGN America suddenly finds itself without a news director. Sandy Pudar, who oversaw the launch of the three-hour primetime newscast in September, resigned Tuesday, multiple sources confirmed. It’s not yet known why she quit. Pudar and officials of parent company Nexstar Media Group declined to comment. Despite chronically low ratings for its first five months on the air, NewsNation plans to add two more hours of news and a nightly talk show hosted by Ashleigh Banfield on March 1. That’s also when WGN America will be renamed NewsNation, pointing to further expansion of the news operation that’s promoted as free of bias and opinion. Pudar worked closely with Jennifer Lyons, the former WGN news director of WGN-Channel 9 who moved up to vice president of news for WGN America. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Pudar joined WGN in 1999 and worked as a news writer and producer before becoming executive producer of “WGN Morning News” in 2009 and assistant news director in 2014. She began as an intern for “Larry King Live” at CNN.
Sorry to report that founder Ameya Pawar and editor Ted Cox are pulling the plug on One Illinois after three years of distinguished reporting on major issues facing the state. They announced the nonprofit, nonpartisan digital news site will cease operations, effective today. “There’s a place in the media for an outlet that tells the engaging stories of Illinoisans to their fellow Illinoisans across the state. But it’s not here and now,” they wrote in a note to readers. “You don’t need to tell us the 21st century is a tough environment in which to grow this sort of news operation; then the pandemic came along, which made it harder still if not near impossible. . . . Maybe one day this website will revive, but for now it’s time to sign off. Thank you, Illinois, for sustaining us as long as you have. Our work goes on, together.” Pawar is a former Chicago alderman. Cox is a legendary journalist and award-winning veteran of the Daily Herald, DNAinfo Chicago and the Chicago Reader.
Chris Kuc, the longtime Chicago sportswriter who was laid off in May as senior writer for the Chicago Blackhawks’ digital platform, has just launched Sports Section, a free daily national newsletter. Billed as “an informative and entertaining look at the world of sports,” it’s published by Front Office Sports. (Here is the link to subscribe.) Kuc spent 35 years at the Chicago Tribune and also worked as a senior NHL writer for The Athletic.
Chris Witting, founder and CEO of Palatine-based Syndication Networks Corp., has just published Podcast To Broadcast: The Six Step Formula to Turn Your Podcast into a Profitable, Nationally Syndicated Radio Show. (Here is the link.) “Now may be the best time ever for anyone to get their content in front of audiences nationwide,” he said. “This book was written to open the door for the podcaster who has the dream of being nationally syndicated.” Before launching his syndication firm in 1993, Witting worked as operations manager of the former WMAQ Radio and director of news and programming at WBBM Newsradio.
Tuesday’s comment of the day: Laura Benitez: As a former journalist, I can’t express my disdain enough for how Amy Jacobson’s continued identity crisis (Am I reporting the story or am I in the story?) casts a negative shadow on credible journalists everywhere.