It’s been a bad week for journalism in Chicago. Let’s take a look:
Friday: It started last Friday. Actually, it started long before that with Alden’s purchase of Tribune Publishing stock, but the latest mess came to a head last weekend. The announcements of accepted buyouts by Heidi Stevens and John Kass brought both glee and dismay on social media sites. It’s sad that people don’t realize that there should be room for both in a major metropolitan newspaper. It’s not an either/or thing, although in 2021 it really is.
Saturday: While doing some grocery shopping at Jewel, I picked up a copy of that day’s Tribune. There were two sections, each only a handful of pages. Yes, I know that newspapers are much smaller on Saturday, but this seemed extreme. The price of that single newspaper was three dollars.
Sunday: We saw the final columns of Kass, Stevens and Mary Schmich. I know they’ll go on to different and maybe even better things, but the opinion pages felt like the obituary pages.
Monday: More announcements of journalists taking the buyout. It’s becoming a guessing game of who is leaving and who is staying. And for those who are staying, what’s next and for how long.
Tuesday: WTTW/Channel 11’s Chicago Tonight had a roundtable of Stevens, Schmich, Eric Zorn and Dahleen Glanton during one of their segments. They looked back on what was and looked forward to what will possibly be. Good luck to all of them, but it didn’t make me feel better about the future of the Tribune.
Wednesday/Thursday: More announcements of long-time journalist leaving. Some names you recognized; others worked behind the scenes. All were important in putting out the newspaper every day.
Friday: It’s the final day for everyone who took the buyout. Actually, some have already left, but after today, the Tribune will be in the past for about forty journalists. It’s not only all veteran people who will go. Some younger people who should be having long careers at the Tribune are also leaving for what they think are better things. Devastating for the paper, its readers and its future.
It’s estimated that those who have left represent twenty-five percent of the Tribune newsroom staff. Doing the math, that leaves approximately one hundred-twenty who are left. What it means that stories that were previously covered are going to be left unreported. There’s just not enough staff to handle everything. It’s a loss for everyone.
You see lots of comments on social media stating that this the end for the Tribune. The paper survived the reigns of Sam Zell and Michael Ferro. They’ve also survived previous buyouts of talented journalists. If they can survive that, they can survive this…..maybe. But with Alden at the helm, it really is a maybe.
All I know is it really was a bad week for journalism in Chicago….and the worst is may be yet to come. Scary!
Filed under: News