Veteran business reporter and columnist David Roeder is leaving the Sun-Times to join the administration of Governor Pat Quinn.
Roeder told his bosses Wednesday that he has accepted a position as communications manager for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, starting Oct. 21. Based in Chicago, he will work on promoting business development for the state.
During his 17 years at the Sun-Times, Roeder, 58, specialized in covering real estate development and the financial markets. He also was an impassioned advocate for his colleagues in the newsroom as treasurer of the Chicago Newspaper Guild and a longtime member of the union's bargaining committee.
"Dave has had just a terrific run at the Sun-Times specifically on the commercial real estate beat," said Jim Kirk, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Sun-Times. "He will be greatly missed by his many newsroom colleagues as well as those in the business community who followed his writing over the years."
The demise of the Sun-Times business section earlier this year temporarily moved Roeder out of the newsroom and onto the staff of Grid, published by a separate unit of the company. Months later, the union successfully fought to have Roeder and two other business reporters restored to their Guild reporting jobs at the Sun-Times.
Roeder said he's happy about his new role in state government but will miss daily journalism.
"As anyone who has worked in this field for so long, it’s something that you can’t walk away from easily," he told me. "It is a part of you, and it always will be. Certainly my love for the Sun-Times and for everyone here remains very much a part of me as well. That’s never going to leave me. I wish the best for this place."
He acknowledged that the paper's uncertain future also played a role in his decision: "I know that this place is under great financial stress. It’s common through the industry, but there are special circumstances here. I know the talent of people here, and I hope they can fight their way through this and find some answers for how to make news pay in this day and age. That’s the fundamental issue facing this company as well.
"I hope they can figure it out because this town needs the Chicago Sun-Times. Not only the Sun-Times, but all of the suburban papers that are part of the company’s network. That covers dailies from Waukegan to Gary, Indiana. They’re an important resource here, and I hope that they can continue," he said.
A Chicago native who grew up in south suburban Dolton, Roeder joined the Sun-Times in 1996 after working as a business reporter for the Daily Herald and editor of Chicago Enterprise magazine, published by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago. He previously spent 12 years as a reporter for the Daily Southtown, where his duties included covering City Hall during the "Council Wars" era.
Roeder also has been a regular contributor to CBS all news WBBM AM 780/WCFS FM 105.9.