Diane Dungey to retire after 40 years at Daily Herald

Diane Dungey

Diane Dungey, senior deputy managing editor of the Daily Herald and the highest-ranking woman in the newsroom, is calling it a career after 40 years.

Editor John Lampinen and managing editor Jim Baumann announced in an email Tuesday Dungey will retire from full-times duties November 12. She will take on an unspecified post-retirement role with the newsroom, they said.

“We thank Diane for the great devotion she has brought to the paper all these years and to meeting the needs of the communities we serve,” Lampinen and Baumann wrote. “We wish her all the best, and we’re happy she will be staying connected to the paper.”

Dungey, 62, who grew up in downstate Kewanee, joined the Daily Herald in 1981 straight out of Northern Illinois University, where she graduated magna cum laude with a journalism degree.

Over the next four decades she rose from reporter to special projects editor, features editor and assistant managing editor before being named deputy managing editor in 2010 and senior deputy managing editor in 2019.

“In these last roles, she has overseen our day-to-day coverage and planned our weekend and projects coverage,” Lampinen and Baumann wrote. “In addition, she has been a vital advisor to the two of us. And she has mentored and developed our most senior staff members with a care and devotion that is unmatched.”

Dungey twice was listed here among the most powerful women in Chicago journalism. She also is a member of the Daily Herald editorial board.

“I fell into journalism years ago, knowing I wanted to be a writer and knowing I needed to get a salary for it,” Dungey told me. “That has been great, but the real payoff is being surrounded every day by interesting, smart, creative, thought-provoking people, both in the newsroom and in the community. The people I’ve met along the way stick in my memory, and I’m glad to have them there.

“I’m grateful to the Daily Herald, the Paddock family, Editor John Lampinen and Publisher and CEO Doug Ray for hiring me back in 1981 when I was a very green news reporter and for letting me hang around all these years. They have been good stewards of a great company in a tough industry.

“I hope to keep my hand in and help support journalism in any way I can. My husband and I are going to continue living in the suburbs, giving more time to family, friends and travel, and keeping up our newspaper subscriptions.”

Here is the text of Lampinen and Baumann’s email:

It has been four decades since Senior Deputy Managing Editor Diane Dungey joined the newspaper fresh after obtaining her journalism degree at Northern Illinois University. She plans to retire from full-time duties on Nov. 12. Please join us in wishing her well on that retirement. We are pleased that she also will be taking on a post-retirement role with the newsroom.

In the course of those four decades, Diane has played a key role in the coverage of many of our biggest stories – the 1995 school bus tragedy in Fox River Grove, the 2008 shootings at NIU, the 1993 Brown’s Chicken murders, Sept. 11, various Chicago sports championships, the sale of Arlington Park, among them. But in a piece earlier this month for our annual The Newspaper Partnership section, she wrote, “Many people occupy the corners of my memories of 40 years as a reporter and editor — the heroes, the famous, the gangsters, the brave. Mostly I remember ordinary, good people who shared with me part of their stories.”

Diane joined the Daily Herald in 1981 as a local reporter with our old Lake County weekly group, and later took on a variety of beats for the daily papers – several municipalities, then education, then covering criminal courts. Later, she took on several key supervisory roles leading and overseeing our special projects and overseeing our features staff where she directed entertainment and lifestyle coverage. She was named Assistant Managing Editor in 1997, Deputy Managing Editor in 2010 and Senior Deputy Managing Editor in 2019. In these last roles, she has overseen our day-to-day coverage and planned our weekend and projects coverage. In addition, she has been a vital advisor to the two of us. And she has mentored and developed our most senior staff members with a care and devotion that is unmatched.

She has won several reporting and writing awards and in 1990, earned the Paddock Publications Editorial Award of Excellence. Media columnist Robert Feder has included her several times on his annual list of the most powerful woman in Chicago journalism.

A native of Kewanee, Diane and her husband Tim established a home in the Northwest suburbs when she joined the company and they reared their two daughters here. Now, they want and deserve to have more time to visit with them and to do more traveling.

We thank Diane for the great devotion she has brought to the paper all these years and to meeting the needs of the communities we serve. We wish her all the best, and we’re happy she will be staying connected to the paper.

(This blog operates under an agreement with the Daily Herald.)