Robservations: Failed merger nets bonuses for Tribune Media execs


Robservations on the media beat:

Larry Wert

The collapse of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s merger cost executives of Tribune Media millions in bonuses they would have received. But they’re not totally out of the money. Despite the failure to complete the deal, the Chicago-based parent company of WGN-Channel 9 and WGN 720-AM will pay its top officials between $102,000 and $160,000, according to a Reuters report Tuesday. The bonuses “are being paid to the executives, like other recipients of unpaid retention bonuses, in recognition of the substantial efforts and time that each of them devoted to the company’s anticipated merger with Sinclair and their contributions to maintain and grow the company’s business,” the company said in a government filing. Among recipients is Tribune Broadcasting president Larry Wert, the former Chicago TV and radio station boss.

Chicago Sun-Times

As the Sun-Times struggles to stem financial losses, the wall between editorial and advertising is getting harder to discern. On Tuesday a rave review of a Broadway in Chicago preview concert at Millennium Park appeared without a byline. Who made the claims that the show was so great (and misspelled the name of ABC 7’s Janet Davies in the process)? We’ll never know. But we do know that Broadway in Chicago is a major advertiser for the Sun-Times. After I questioned Sun-Times editor-in-chief Chris Fusco, who referred the matter to senior vice president of digital news products Carol Fowler, the mysterious review was severely edited. Last week a “Food We Love” video segment hosted by Linda Yu on Thai chef Arun Sampanthavivat was accompanied by paid ads for Arun’s restaurant. Bottom line: When newsrooms use advertising material as news content, they’re supposed to label it as such.

Donald Trump

More than 200 newspapers across the country — including the Daily Herald — have signed on to publish editorials Thursday condemning President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media. The concerted effort, organized by the editorial staff of the Boston Globe, is being supported by the American Society of News Editors. ‘‘We are not the enemy of the people,’’ said Globe deputy managing editor Marjorie Pritchard, who proposed the coordinated editorial response. “Our words will differ. But at least we can agree that such attacks are alarming.”

Ken "Hawk" Harrelson

As Ken “Hawk” Harrelson nears retirement after 33 seasons in the broadcast booth, the Chicago White Sox and NBC Sports Chicago are jointly producing what's being billed as the definitive documentary on his life and career. Featuring interviews with family members, players, coaches, front office executives and broadcasters, the hourlong “Hawk” will premiere September 13. (Here is the link to the trailer.) “The fans in Chicago, they will never know how much I love them because I have a lot of White Sox fans that don’t like me because I don’t try to please them, it’s just that simple,” Harrelson says. “I have a lot of White Sox fans that don’t like me because I fired Tony LaRussa and I would do it again. So, overall thank goodness the majority, there’s an affair there. There’s a love affair and I love it.” A preview screening of the documentary September 6 at ArcLight Cinemas will benefit Chicago White Sox charities.

Alberto “El Terrible” Cortez

Alberto “El Terrible” Cortez, morning personality on Spanish Broadcasting System regional Mexican WLEY 107.9-FM, is rolling out in syndication. Cortez, whose show also airs in Los Angeles (where it originates) and San Francisco, will be distributed nationally by SBS’s Aire Radio Networks. "'Al Aire Con El Terrible' has been a success in major Hispanic markets with dense Mexican populations," Elisa Torres, executive vice president of SBS, said in a statement. “We're excited to broaden the reach of the immersive content of the show to other communities that share the same interests."

Robert Kalutkiewicz

Robert Kalutkiewicz, who headed mergers and acquisitions at Chicago-based tronc, has jumped to E.W. Scripps Co. as vice president of strategy, new business and corporate development. ”Scripps' growth strategy includes developing our existing portfolio of local and national media brands and identifying and capitalizing on opportunities to launch new businesses consistent with the Scripps mission of creating a better informed world," Lisa Knutson, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in a statement. "With his experience in deal execution and strategy within the media industry, Robert will be instrumental to that plan."

Tuesday’s comments of the day: Tracy Baim: This is an incredible honor to be in the inaugural class of the Hall of Fame, alongside my late mother, but also the amazing Ida B. Wells. There are so many women journalism pioneers that deserve this honor, I hope to help bring to light the work of these amazing women for future induction.

Laura Washington: My humble and heartfelt thanks for all the good words. I am so honored to be included in such stellar company. Tracy Baim, Joy Darrow, Ellen Warren and of course the incomparable Ida B. Wells are all my sheroes!