Robservations: Sun-Times hires Jennifer Kho as executive editor; Steve Warmbir steps down; WGN special examines healthcare system

Jennifer Kho

Robservations on the media beat:

Chicago Sun-Times

Jennifer Kho, a Los Angeles-based digital media consultant and former managing editor of HuffPost and Guardian US, was named executive editor of the Sun-Times Thursday. Chicago Public Media, which acquired the newspaper in January and switched it to nonprofit status, introduced Kho as “the first woman and first person of color to lead the Sun-Times’ newsroom in the paper’s 178-year history.” “I couldn’t be more excited to join the historic Chicago Sun-Times at this pivotal moment, with its new public media ownership, to create a strong sense of connection and community throughout Chicago,” Kho said in a statement. “I’m determined to build on the paper’s incomparable legacy and make the most of this huge opportunity to create a new model of community-supported journalism as an inclusive, trusted source of cohesion, empathy and positive change.” Kho starts on the job next week and will move to Chicago in September, according to the Sun-Times report.

Steve Warmbir

Steve Warmbir, who served as interim editor-in-chief since 2020, confirmed he’s leaving the Sun-Times after 22 years. “No one stays in the editor-in-chief job for too long,” he wrote in an email to staff Thursday. “I plan to recharge this summer before tackling other opportunities. I welcome Jennifer Kho to the newsroom and wish her nothing but the very best. I will always be the biggest cheerleader for the Sun-Times — and now our new partner, WBEZ. My goal when I started this position was to leave the Sun-Times better off than I found it, and I’ve done that, in large part thanks to all of you. . . . I will always be in the Sun-Times’ corner, and no one will be rooting harder for you than me.” Warmbir, who grew up in Chicago and west suburban Downers Grove, started his career at the Daily Herald. A first-rate journalist and solid professional, he joined the Sun-Times in 1999, culminating in his rise to award-winning investigative reporter, managing editor and interim editor-in-chief.

Dina Bair

Dina Bair, midday news anchor and medical reporter at Nexstar Media WGN-Channel 9, will host a half-hour special on critical problems facing the country’s healthcare system. “WGN Films: Medicine Is Sick,” based on Bair’s series of reports in May, will air at 6 p.m. Saturday and repeat at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. (Here is the link to a preview.) It’s the debut production of WGN Films, billed as “presenting compelling and in-depth cinematic journalism that goes beyond the headlines to explore the stories and issues that affect Chicago area communities.”

Rob Nelson

Rob Nelson, who was among the founding news anchors of NewsNation before he resigned from the Chicago-based startup, has been promoted to morning news anchor at Newsy. Starting Monday, he’ll team with co-anchor Alex Livingston from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays on the free, over-the-air 24/7 news network owned by E.W. Scripps Co. Nelson joined Newsy last fall as anchor of “Newsy Reports.” “Rob brings energy, enthusiasm and his deep roots in high-quality journalism to ‘Morning Rush,’” Eric Ludgood, head of the Atlanta-based network said in a statement. “Through his experience anchoring morning shows, he has developed a wealth of knowledge about how to serve this important audience.” Before his one-year stint with NewsNation, Nelson worked for ABC News and WABC in New York.

Dan Protess

In 23 years as executive producer at WTTW-Channel 11, Dan Protess created, produced and wrote a distinguished array of programs and series for the Window to the World Communications station — including “Chicago Stories,” “Firsthand” and “10 that Changed America.” Now he’s striking out on his own. Chicago-based Protess Communications will produce documentaries and TV series for broadcast and streaming as well as offer communications consulting services for corporate, financial services and nonprofit clients. “There are so many stories that I feel compelled to tell — probably more than I can possibly tell in my lifetime,” Protess said in a statement. “I’m excited to partner with talented people in Chicago and beyond who share my belief in the power of good storytelling to change perceptions and change the world.”

Adeshina Emmanuel

Adeshina Emmanuel, editor-in-chief of the Chicago-based nonprofit investigative journalism organization Injustice Watch, is joining Louisville Public Media as managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. Starting June 13, he’ll head a five-person reporting team. “Injustice Watch gave me the chance to learn, experiment and grow as a newsroom leader while developing my strengths and discovering talents I never knew I had,” Emmanuel tweeted. “I’ll always remember my time here as a life-changing experience.” Before joining Injustice Watch in 2019, the Chicago native and Loyola University graduate worked for Chalkbeat, the Chicago Reporter and DNAinfo Chicago. Earlier this year he was a fellow at the Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program run by Columbia Journalism School.

Paul Zimbrakos

Tributes are pouring in on the passing of Paul Zimbrakos, legendary editor of Chicago’s City News Bureau who trained generations of reporters over five decades. Zimbrakos, 86, died Tuesday at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. A 1957 graduate of Roosevelt University, he worked as a copyboy for the Chicago Daily News before joining the fabled news service the following year. (Here is the link to Maureen O’Donnell’s Sun-Times obituary.) “I don’t think I am overstating the facts to say that he taught us more, and more quickly, than any graduate school of journalism could,” recalled Bob Bresse-Rodenkirk, one of hundreds of print, broadcast and digital journalists who learned their craft from Zimbrakos. “I wouldn’t be half the journalist I was over the years without his guidance.”

Thursday’s comment of the day: Chad Rubel: Annalisa sounds like she has a good track record. Crashing the XRT lineup is traditionally awkward for outsiders. Jason Thomas never really understood what WXRT was all about. Hope this goes a whole lot better.