Robservations: Dahleen Glanton, Shannon Ryan announce Tribune buyouts

Dahleen Glanton

Robservations on the media beat:

On the day the Chicago Tribune published farewell columns from John Kass, Mary Schmich and Heidi Stevens, another star columnist announced her impending departure. Dahleen Glanton, who brought a thoughtful perspective on issues of race, poverty, violence and social justice to Tribune readers, told social media followers Sunday that she’s leaving at week’s end after taking a buyout offer from new owner Alden Global Capital. “This was a bittersweet decision, but I know it is the correct one,” she wrote, telling followers: “You have been my greatest support system, reading my columns regularly, commenting on them and sharing them.” Glanton, who grew up in Georgia and graduated from the University of Georgia, joined the Tribune in 1989 from the Los Angeles Times. Before being named a columnist she served as associate metro editor and Atlanta bureau chief.

Shannon Ryan

In January Shannon Ryan became the first woman to be named Illinois Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Now she’s leaving the Chicago Tribune too. The veteran sports reporter, whose beats included college football and basketball, announced she’s also taking a buyout. “A tough decision, but I will be among those leaving the Tribune,” she tweeted. “Another update on my future soon. Beyond thankful to have worked with such gifted, driven and passionate reporters during my time with @ChicagoSports.” A graduate of Saint Mary’s College, Ryan was a sports reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer before joining the Tribune in 2007.

Tina Sfondeles

Tina Sfondeles, former chief political reporter at the Sun-Times, has joined Politico.com as a White House reporter. She will co-write the West Wing Playbook with Alex Thompson. For the past year Sfondeles has been on the Washington-based political team of Business Insider, the national news website. Before joining the Sun-Times as a preps sports writer in 2007, Sfondeles was a news writer at Audacy all-news WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM and a production assistant for “The Steve Dahl Show.” She’s a graduate of Lemont High School and holds degrees from Loyola University and Columbia College.

Bonnie DeShong

Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications welcomes two new members to its board of directors. Longtime Chicago radio personality Bonnie DeShong, who now hosts “Bonnie’s Eye On” on the FM Omnichannel 95.1 FM Chicago, is former co-host of Chicago Municipal Television’s “Chicago Works” and former director of community relations at DuSable Museum of African American History. And Mike Hillstrom, a former broadcaster, is president and owner of Select Marketing Group, a strategic marketing and media management firm. “In seeking new perspectives and talents for our board, I am thrilled to have Bonnie and Mike join our team,” board chairman David Plier said in a statement. “They will each have a profound impact as we deepen our education mission and plan for the future of our institution.”

David Smallwood

Services will be Wednesday for David Smallwood, longtime Chicago journalist and former editor of N’Digo magazine, who died June 11 from complications of multiple myeloma and COVID-19. He was 66. Starting as a teenager writing for Lu Palmer’s Black X-Press and later as a copy clerk for the Sun-Times, Smallwood later worked for Jet magazine, Dollars & Sense and N’Digo, which he helped launch in 1989. “He read every word of every paper to make sure that it was right, with meaning and context,” publisher Hermene Hartman told Maudlyne Ihejirika of the Sun-Times. (Here is the link.) “He often stayed at the office, sleeping on a couch, on deadline days. He understood and was part of the mission to change the narrative of Black Chicago.” Born in Chicago and raised on the South Side, Smallwood attended Dixon Elementary School and Lindblom High School and graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Saturday’s comment of the day: Gary Lee: Robert Feder, your job has taken on similarities to that of a funeral director at the pandemic peak. Barely a breather as causalities pile up. Of course, there is no comparison to the loss of life and no disrespect intended. While Tribune buyouts are voluntary it’s likely departure would have been inevitable, with less favorable terms. Applying another COVID reference, remaining staffers might be considered “long haulers,” suffering through the debilitating effects, not sure of their own survival. Tragic. And the grim task continues.