Robservations: Tronc cutting its way to ‘meaningful journalism’

New York Daily News

Robservations on the media beat:


The bloodbath that wiped out half the editorial staff of the New York Daily News Monday will continue today at other units of Chicago-based parent company tronc. That’s the word from CEO Justin Dearborn, who told employees the cutbacks would “accelerate our company’s transformation into a truly digitally-focused enterprise — one that creates meaningful journalism, delivers it more quickly and more frequently, and develops new approaches to engage our reader.” Tronc bought the money-losing Daily News in 2017 for the token price of one dollar in what many saw as a grab for its printing plant and real estate. Dearborn acknowledged that further personnel cuts would be implemented today “to reduce expenses and contain costs.” While the latest job losses are expected to include a substantial number of positions at the corporate level and in other departments, a tronc spokeswoman said there would be no editorial layoffs in Chicago. The Chicago Tribune newsroom last underwent major downsizing in March.

Justin Dearborn

More from Dearborn: “As a public company, we have a fiduciary obligation to balance the interests of all of our constituents: shareholders, employees, readers and community. While I know these changes are difficult, I ask for your continued focus, patience and optimism as we continue our evolution and embrace the opportunities ahead. . . . Through all of these improvements, the quality of our journalism remains exceptional, as always.” What’s really going on at tronc? Insiders say it’s all about getting the company ready for a sale.

Dave Newbart

The interim executive editor and two longtime staffers at the Chicago Reader are leaving the alternative weekly as it shifts from the Sun-Times to new ownership. On Monday Sun-Times CEO Edwin Eisendrath confirmed the departures of Dave Newbart, who’s been filling in as editor since February, and the resignations of film editor J.R. Jones and music writer Peter Margasak. Jones has been on staff since 1997. Margasak began as an editorial assistant in 1993 and became a staff writer in 1995. Eisendrath said a search is on for a new editor in chief. The Reader was acquired in June by a group headed by Dorothy Leavell, publisher of the African-American Chicago Crusader.

Michael Gay

Michael Gay has been named general manager of digital for Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting. He most recently was vice president of content for Inform Inc., the nation’s largest digital video syndication platform. “Weigel Broadcasting’s history of programming and media innovation is renowned in the industry, and I’m honored to be a part of its future,” Gay said in a statement. “Digital platforms and consumer devices are powerful tools of transformation through which Weigel will serve and entertain our local communities and national audiences.” A Chicago native and graduate of Michigan State University and Full Sail University, Gay previously served as Web manager for CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2.

Jim DeRogatis

Veteran Chicago music critic and “Sound Opinions” co-host Jim DeRogatis was called out by name Monday in the latest song by famed R&B singer, songwriter, and producer R. Kelly. In "I Admit," Kelly says: "To Jim DeRogatis, whatever your name is; You been tryna destroy me for 25 whole years; Writin' the same stories over and over again; Off my name, you done went and made yourself a career." DeRogatis, who has doggedly reported allegations of sexual misconduct by Kelly since 2000, told Variety he stands by his work. "I've been reporting on it for 18 years and no single story I've written about it has been refuted," he said.

Monday’s comment of the day: Jim Hirsch: Dennis Moore is a great choice [at WFMT] for so many reasons. Congratulations to a true professional.