Robservations on the media beat:
Investigators, reporters and other staff members of Chicago’s Better Government Association voted unanimously last week to seek representation by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The unionizing move could be seen as a challenge to Andy Shaw, who has headed the nonprofit investigative news organization and civic watchdog group since 2009. It comes just weeks after the resignations of Robert Reed as director of programming and Robert Herguth as director of investigations. Their departures reportedly were prompted by changes in the organization’s structure and revisions in its investigative strategy. No comment yet from Shaw or SAG-AFTRA officials. SAG-AFTRA recently won elections to represent producers of “Chicago Tonight” at Window to the World Communications WTTW-Channel 11, and staffers who work in content and technical areas at Chicago Public Media WBEZ FM 91.5.
According to a report in The New York Times, tronc chairman Michael Ferro tried to use his newspapers’ reporters to investigate management of the investment firm that opposed his takeover and administration of Tribune Publishing. “During a meeting in July at his estate in Lake Geneva, Wis., [Ferro] suggested to top editors and executives that their journalists investigate Oaktree and Bruce Karsh, co-chairman and co-founder of the firm, according to two people with direct knowledge of the meeting,” the Times reported. No stories about Oaktree or Karsh were published, but the incident underscores Ferro’s reputation for abuse of authority and disregard for ethics of journalism. A spokesman for Ferro denied the story.
To the relief of countless fans, “Ask Amy” is back. On hiatus since July 14, the popular advice column by Amy Dickinson returned to the pages of the Chicago Tribune on Monday. “The ongoing response from readers who have missed the column has been so heartening,” Dickinson said. “Chicago readers are so fiercely loyal.” No word on why her column was on hiatus from the Tribune, where it’s been anchored since 2003. In the interim, the syndicated version of “Ask Amy” continued to appear in newspapers across the country.
The September issue of Chicago magazine marks a return to print for Bill Zehme, the legendary Chicago writer who’s been making a comeback after treatment and recovery for colorectal cancer. Scoring an interview with Da Coach Mike Ditka, Zehme inaugurates Back Room, the magazine’s new back-page feature. A note to readers from Susanna Homan, editor and publisher of Chicago, hails the start of Zehme’s monthly venture (and his first byline for the magazine) as the coup it is: “An icon returns.”
Abby Hornacek, billed as a “rising star” in sports digital and social media, has been hired by 120 Sports, the Chicago-based digital video network. She’ll co-host “The Rally,” a live-streamed, nightly multi-sport highlights show on Twitter. A graduate of the University of Southern California, she was a sports anchor and features reporter for Fox Sports Arizona, a co-host for Fox Sports San Diego and a freelance reporter for ESPN. Hornacek is the daughter of New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek.
“Television in the 1990s” will be the topic of a panel discussion August 27 at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, 360 North State Street. Participants will include Phil Rosenthal, Chicago Tribune business columnist, Justin Kaufmann, evening host at Tribune Media news/talk WGN AM 720, and Sharon Ross, associate professor at Columbia College Chicago. It’s the latest event tied to the museum’s ongoing exhibit on Watching TV in the 1990s. Walter Podrazik, curator and writer of the exhibit, will serve as moderator. Tickets are available at museum.tv.