Seven years into his run as editor of the Chicago Tribune, Gerry Kern has assembled a new team of seasoned insiders to help lead the city’s premier news organization.
On Wednesday he announced the promotion of a new managing editor and a new associate editor — both considered viable contenders to succeed the 65-year-old Kern whenever he decides to retire as editor and senior vice president of Chicago Tribune Media Group.
As expected, Peter Kendall, deputy managing editor and a 27-year veteran of the Tribune, was named managing editor, overseeing daily news operations across all digital and print platforms. He replaces Jane Hirt, who stepped down in November after 25 years with the company.
Colin McMahon, cross media editor and a 28-year veteran of the Tribune, moved up to associate editor, overseeing the entertainment and lifestyle departments along with the editing and presentation teams. He’ll also direct the Trib Nation live event program and other audience development projects. McMahon succeeds Joyce Winnecke, who will devote full time to her role as president of Tribune Content Agency, the rapidly expanding syndication and licensing unit of Tribune Publishing.
“At a time when we’re engaging with more people than ever before, it’s critical that we have strong leaders such as Colin and Peter in place to help ensure we are putting the best product with the best content out there across all screens,” Kern said in a statement. In a followup call, he added: “Both grew up professionally inside the Chicago Tribune newsroom. They rose to leadership over the past seven years as true architects of change. They’ve both excelled at forging a digital news operation, and they’ve both strengthened our journalistic core.”
Perhaps to offset the loss of two women — Hirt and Winnecke — from the Tribune’s top editorial ranks, Marcia Lythcott was named to the new position of commentary editor, and Margaret Holt's name also will appear on the masthead as standards editor. Lythcott reports to Bruce Dold, who continues as editorial page editor. Bill Adee continues as executive vice president/digital.
Kern said the appointments, which are effective immediately, serve the “newsroom mission” he has espoused throughout his tenure as editor. “That vision is based on public service journalism for Chicago, as embodied in our investigative reporting, local news reporting and opinion leadership, and on digital innovation to grow audiences and improve the experience for consumers,” he said.
Kendall, a graduate of Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, joined the Tribune as an intern in 1988 after two years with City News Bureau of Chicago. He worked as a general assignment reporter and environment writer until 2000, then became a deputy metro editor. He served as metro editor since 2008 and deputy managing editor since 2009.
McMahon, a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, joined the Tribune in 1987 as a copy editor after stints as a reporter and editor at the Dayton Journal Herald and two other Ohio newspapers. He covered national politics and crime for the Tribune and later became a foreign correspondent posted in Baghdad, Buenos Aires, Moscow and Mexico City. Back in Chicago he served as foreign editor and national content editor before he was named cross media editor in 2014.
Wednesday’s announcement also formalized the appointment of Winnecke as president of Tribune Content Agency, a role she has held for most of the past year.
A graduate of the University of Southern Indiana and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Winnecke joined the Tribune as associate managing editor for national news in 2002 after serving as managing editor of the Sun-Times. She was promoted to associate editor of the paper in 2008 and added the title of vice president in 2010.
Winnecke was instrumental in the company’s acquisition last year of the remaining stake in McClatchy-Tribune Information Service, which was rebranded Tribune News Service. Next month Tribune Content Agency will launch Success, a multi-platform content offering that will deliver personal finance and career advice to publishers nationwide.
“Joyce is a visionary leader whose appointment as president will help ensure that TCA continues to deliver innovative experiences for existing clients while capitalizing on emerging opportunities,” Tony Hunter, publisher and CEO of Chicago Tribune Media Group, said in a statement.
Winnecke said she was proud of her accomplishments as associate editor of the Tribune (including the launch of Blue Sky Innovation, Printers Row Journal and other initiatives) and grateful to Kern for the opportunities he created for her. Calling Tribune Content Agency “a mission-driven business,” she added: “We are positioned for growth, and I am delighted to be able to focus full time to help make that growth happen.”
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