Tribune pulls Pioneer Press reporter off Evanston beat

Bob Seidenberg

Bob Seidenberg

A veteran reporter for the Evanston Review is being shipped out to the west suburbs in retaliation for withholding his byline from a story, according to the Chicago News Guild.

Bob Seidenberg, an award-winning writer who has covered the north suburb for nearly 30 years, was reassigned to Franklin Park and other west suburbs about a week after he removed his name from a story that he said had been rewritten inaccurately by an editor.

The Evanston Review long has been the crown jewel of Pioneer Press, the suburban newspaper chain recently acquired by Tribune Publishing, the company now known as tronc. Pioneer reporters, who are represented by the Chicago News Guild, have a contractual right to withhold their names from their work.

“Seidenberg’s pending removal is just the latest in a series of warnings, threats and accusations by [Pioneer editor John] Puterbaugh and other managers against Pioneer Press reporters on almost a weekly basis since Tribune (now tronc) took over the 32-newspaper chain last year,” a story posted on the union’s website reported Tuesday.

According to the union, Seidenberg was told that he was being reassigned “for business reasons” despite arguing that “his experience, his resources and his understanding of Evanston would benefit the Tribune if he stayed in Evanston.”

“We believe this was a retaliation for withholding his byline,” Craig Rosenbaum, executive director of the Chicago News Guild, was quoted as saying. “Bob is being punished for exercising a contractual right. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he asked for his byline to be held just before this. Removing Bob from Evanston will be a loss to Evanston. They’re depriving the community of a reporter with years of experience who has a wealth of sources and contacts.”

Dana Meyer, a spokesperson for the Chicago Tribune, released a statement denying any retaliation.

“The company respects the collective agreement with Pioneer Press and has worked within the terms and conditions of that agreement,” the statement said. “There have been incidents where a reporter has asked to have their name removed and we consistently accommodate those requests. The agreement specifically identifies rules for transferring an employee and we adhere to these rules. This was not retaliation. We simply had a need for a veteran Pioneer reporter on a strong digital beat that had gone vacant. Evanston is a vital town for us and will continue to be very well covered.”