Chicago Tribune columnist Rex Huppke jumps to USA Today

Rex Huppke (Photo: Zbigniew Bzdak)

When scores of journalists bailed out of the Chicago Tribune last year, one of the few marquee names to stick around was Rex Huppke, the syndicated humor columnist.

“I’d love to say I have some grand vision for the future, or that I righteously chose to take a stand against Alden Global Capital, the hedge fund that took over the Chicago Tribune and our sister papers and is known for turning journalists into unemployed journalists. But neither of those things is true,” he told readers in June.

“I just didn’t want to stop doing what I do, I didn’t have another plan in place and I have a long history of making terrible financial decisions.”

Now Huppke is leaving too.

“I’ll soon be starting a new job as a columnist at USA Today,” Huppke announced on social media Thursday. “I leave the Tribune on fantastic terms and deeply indebted for the opportunities I’ve had and the people I’ve been so fortunate to work alongside. It’s a newsroom filled with talent, and a Chicago institution of immeasurable value and importance.”

Huppke, a onetime chemical engineer who earned a master’s in journalism from the University of Missouri, began his career working for the Associated Press in Indiana before joining the Tribune as a reporter in 2003.

Here is the full text of Huppke’s post:

Buckle up, friends, I have news.

Tomorrow will be my last day at the Chicago Tribune, the wonderful newspaper I’ve called home for nearly 20 years. I’ll soon be starting a new job as a columnist at USA TODAY. I’m outlandishly excited about the opportunity and I’ve been occasionally breaking into little happy dances, something I hope no one ever witnesses.

This decision to leave was mine entirely. It was time for a new challenge, and I look forward to writing for USA Today’s national and international audience. I’m humbled to join the amazing team at USA TODAY Opinion and all the great journalists throughout the USA Today network.

I leave the Tribune on fantastic terms and deeply indebted for the opportunities I’ve had and the people I’ve been so fortunate to work alongside. It’s a newsroom filled with talent, and a Chicago institution of immeasurable value and importance.

Any readers who, for whatever mysterious reasons, have enjoyed my work over the years, I implore you to keep supporting the Chicago Tribune. It needs us and, trust me, we need it. Local journalism matters. A lot.

I owe so much to the brilliant people I’ve worked with since first setting foot in the Tribune newsroom. There are far too many to namecheck, and I’d probably start crying if I listed them all. (Nobody wants to see me cry. It gets messy, often involves large amounts of ice cream and is worse than the dancing.)

Suffice it to say I have been made better, over and over again, by my smart, precise, honest and compassionate colleagues, past and present. It has been the honor of a lifetime to share pages with them. I’ve been the court jester to their order of knights.

I want to thank my Tribune bosses Phil Jurik and Mitch Pugh for being so gracious about my departure and giving me the time to wrap things up and say a proper farewell. Class acts, all the way. The Tribune is in good hands.

You’ll be hearing more about the new USA Today adventure in the days and weeks to come, of course. In the meantime, I have a final column to write, a mountain of memories to sift through and a sky full of lucky stars to thank.