Robservations on the media beat:
Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass must delight in alienating his co-workers. Just the other day he retweeted a comment from Tom Bevan, co-founder of the website RealClearPolitics, which referred to the media as “the enemy of the people.” Among those who called out Kass was Tribune reporter Greg Pratt, president of the Chicago Tribune Guild: “I expect better from @John_Kass than to elevate ‘enemy of the people’ rhetoric about journalists, but I guess I shouldn’t,” he tweeted. “It is language that puts reporters, editors and photographers in actual danger and diminishes newsrooms everywhere, including the Tribune.” Kass has been openly at odds with colleagues since last April when he came under fire for blasting media elites “doing just fine during the coronavirus shutdown” — days after Tribune Publishing furloughed hundreds of journalists. In July the Chicago Tribune Guild and the Anti-Defamation League accused him of invoking anti-Semitic tropes in a column about billionaire George Soros. Calling himself a victim of “cancel culture,” Kass said: “I will not soil my name by groveling to anyone in this or any other newsroom.”
Nexstar Media Group, parent company of WGN-Channel 9 and NewsNation, has announced the launch of Rewind TV, a digital subchannel that will air sitcoms from the 1980s and ’90s. The lineup will include “The Drew Carey Show,” “Murphy Brown,” “Growing Pains,” “Wings,” “Sabrina, The Teenage Witch,” “Who’s the Boss” and “Family Ties.” Debuting September 1, the new network will be available in 40 percent of U.S. households, including Chicago. Nexstar also operates Antenna TV, which focuses on ’60s and ’70s programming. “To complement Antenna TV’s strong following with Baby Boomers, we created Rewind TV to give Gen X viewers a network dedicated to their own nostalgic comedy classics,” Sean Compton, president of Nexstar Networks, said in a statement.
Under terms of his settlement with ABC, veteran Chicago sports anchor Mark Giangreco can’t talk about his dismissal from WLS-Channel 7 or the role ABC 7 news anchor Cheryl Burton played in his firing. But that doesn’t preclude him from reminiscing about his 40 years in Chicago TV or commenting on the teams and players he’s covered. This week he’ll begin making the rounds of broadcast and podcast interviews with Bob Sirott, Steve Cochran, Jon Greenberg and Jon Zaghloul, among others. “I know what I can and can’t say,” Giangreco told me. As part of his adjustment to life after ABC 7, the former @markgiangreco7 just changed his Twitter handle to @mark_giangreco and his email account to email@example.com. “The tidal wave of public support along with the backing of everyone in the business both locally and nationally has been so overwhelming and humbling,” he tweeted. “I can’t thank you enough!”
Two more full-time reporters are joining the staff of Block Club Chicago, the rapidly growing neighborhood news site. Under a grant from Report for America, Atavia Reed has been hired as Englewood, Auburn Gresham and Chatham reporter. The former Block Club contributor previously covered Deerfield and Highland Park for the Chicago Tribune’s Pioneer Press. (Current South Side beat reporter Jamie Nesbitt Golden will shift to cover the Bronzeville and Douglas neighborhoods.) And Ariel Parrella-Aureli, a Block Club contributor who had been co-editor of the LoganSquarist, has been hired as Northwest Side reporter, covering Portage Park, Norwood Park, Edison Park, Jefferson Park and Sauganash. “This addition of full-time neighborhood reporters on Chicago’s South Side and Northwest Side is part of our commitment to grow sustainably in all parts of the city,” Block Club editors said in a statement.
Michael Romain, editor of Austin Weekly News, has been promoted to the additional post of equity editor and ombudsman for nonprofit parent company Growing Community Media. In the newly created position Romain will report on equity-related news and work with staff “to ensure that all of our coverage reflects an equity lens,” according to editor and publisher Dan Haley. Taking on Romain’s former duties as education reporter for Wednesday Journal is F. Amanda Tugade, who moves up from freelance to full-time.
Lizzie Schiffman Tufano, director of digital growth at the Sun-Times, has been promoted to vice president of marketing. 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 in 2018 as director of news planning and strategy and also served as director of audience engagement and special projects.
The Publicity Club of Chicago welcomes three knowledgeable insiders from Audacy all-news WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM to talk shop at an online webinar starting at noon Wednesday. Recalling how they covered the historic events of 2020 and previewing what’s ahead for WBBM Newsradio will be managing editor Julie Mann, afternoon news co-anchor Lisa Fielding and morning editor Zac Weber. (Here is the link to register.)
Friday’s comment of the day: Bernie Cicirello: Congratulations, Tracy Brown! Remember, talk is cheap unless you’re trying to acquire some for a radio station.