Robservations: Hulu to premiere ABC 7’s ‘Being Blago’ docuseries; Colin McMahon joins journalism project; Jim Baumann kicks off book tour

Rod Blagojevich

Robservations on the media beat:

Disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been out of office for more than 12 years, but there’s still no letup in media fascination with him. On Friday, Hulu will premiere “Being Blago,” a four-part documentary series produced for ABC Owned Television Stations by WLS-Channel 7. (Here is the link to the trailer.) The streaming docuseries highlights two decades of coverage by ABC 7 chief investigative reporter Chuck Goudie and producer Barb Markoff — from Blagojevich’s rise to power to his release from prison after his 14-year sentence was commuted by former President Donald Trump in 2020. It includes unfettered access to his current day-to-day life at home. Matt Knutson, director of content innovation at ABC 7 and co-executive producer and director of “Being Blago” (with Justin Allen), called the series “a very raw look at a man trying to amend his past and forge a new, meaningful and untarnished legacy,” adding: “‘Being Blago’ reminds viewers what happened through a visual timeline of events while simultaneously following Rod in his next chapter.”

Colin McMahon

Colin McMahon, who resigned in August as editor-in-chief of the Chicago Tribune, has joined the Facebook Journalism Project’s Accelerator Program to help news publishers build sustainable businesses. “While this is only part time, I’m thrilled to be working with some dynamic news organizations through Tim Griggs and his Blue Engine Collaborative,” McMahon told me. “The Facebook Accelerator program already has helped a lot of publishers improve their subscription business, and I’m eager to work with teams in the Middle East and South Africa as they tackle this challenge. It’s so interesting to see the approaches other news media organizations take and the challenges they face in other countries and cultures. I was not planning to jump back into the fray so quickly, but when Tim presented this opportunity, I could not pass it up. I’m glad I did not.”

Jim Baumann

Jim Baumann, managing editor of the Daily Herald, kicks off the media tour for his new book, Grammar Moses: A humorous look at grammar and usage, with two interviews Wednesday. Published by Chicago-based Eckhartz Press, the book is a collection of Baumann’s Sunday columns from the Daily Herald. (Here is the link.) He’ll join Steve Cochran on his “Live From My Office” podcast and Eckhartz Press publishers Rick Kaempfer and Dave Stern on their “Minutia Men Celebrity Interview” podcast. Baumann’s first book signing will be Saturday from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin. A 36-year veteran of the Daily Herald, Baumann was promoted Tuesday to executive editor, effective with the retirement of top editor John Lampinen in December.

J.A. Adande

J.A. Adande, director of sports journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and longtime panelist on ESPN’s “Around the Horn,” has been tapped to serve as editor of The Year’s Best Sports Writing 2022, set for release by Chicago-based Triumph Books in October 2022. “Having one of my stories selected for the original Best American Sports Writing series was a career highlight for me,” said Adande, a former sports columnist and reporter. “Being asked to edit The Year’s Best Sports Writing is an even greater honor. There’s an abundance of talented writers in the sports world right now and I’m looking forward to immersing myself in their work.”

Monroe Anderson

Celebrated Chicago journalist Monroe Anderson was among recipients of 2021 Distinguished Alumni Awards from Indiana University October 22. After graduating from the IU Media School in 1971, Anderson worked for the National Observer, Ebony, Newsweek and the Chicago Tribune. He later served as press secretary for Chicago Mayor Eugene Sawyer and director of station services and community affairs at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2, where he hosted the public-affairs show “Common Ground.” “It was a great celebration,” Anderson wrote of his honor on Facebook. “Indiana University’s campus is even more beautiful than it was when I was a student there in the last millennium.”

Block Club Chicago

More well-deserved honors this week for Block Club Chicago, the reader-funded nonprofit newsroom that covers the city’s neighborhoods like nobody’s business. On Monday the site was named best online-only news source in the annual international competition sponsored by Editor and Publisher. “Block Club Chicago embodies what an online news outlet should be – bursting with valuable, local information and packaged in an easy to consume format,” the judges declared. Block Club also won for best overall website design among publishers with one million or more unique visitors and for best redesign/relaunch of its website. “We do this for our readers, not for awards,” tweeted co-founder and managing editor Stephanie Lulay. “But it’s an honor to be recognized.”

Monday’s comment of the day: Charlie Meyerson: I can attest personally to John Lampinen’s integrity, professionalism and kindness. Thank you for your service, sir.