Robservations: After 114 years, Chicago Defender ends print run

Chicago Defender

Robservations on the media beat:

Chicago Defender

Wednesday will mark the final print edition of the Chicago Defender as the historic African American newspaper shifts entirely to digital publication. Founded by Robert S. Abbott in 1905, the Defender played a crucial role in promoting the Great Migration of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North in the first half of the 20th century. In 1929 the paper created The Bud Billiken Day Parade, a legacy that endures to this day. Now owned by Detroit-based Real Times Media, the Defender switched from daily to weekly publication in 2008. "It is simply time for the publication to break away from the printed page and put more focus on bringing our readers daily content from the African American perspective and increasing the impact of our community voice," said Hiram E. Jackson, CEO of Real Times Media. "We understand that to some of our loyal readers, this rite of passage is a painful one. However, we are committed to preserving the legacy of the Chicago Defender and are excited to be making this bold step to ensure its vitality for the next 100 years."

Esther J. Cepeda

Esther J. Cepeda, whose work is nationally syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group, came out in a column last month as a member of the LGBTQ community. (Here is the link.) The Chicago native and former Sun-Times reporter and columnist is a married mother of two who now identifies as queer/nonbinary/gender-nonconforming. In an interview with NBC News, which called her “one of the country’s most prominent Latina columnists,” Cepeda said: “People have told me that my coming out is brave and courageous, but I am so privileged; I have a family and parents who love me, income, I have a support system in place. If you can, though, imagine what it is like for a young person struggling with their sexuality or gender identity — it is much worse for them. I want people to understand that those needs are there, and that they are important.”

Steve Dahl (1979)

The latest media salutes to the 40th anniversary of Disco Demolition include interviews with Steve Dahl by Daily Herald sports columnist Barry Rozner (here is the link) and Illinois Entertainer media columnist Rick Kaempfer (here is the link). Also just out is a special edition of Brandon Herman's radio show (here is the link) featuring recollections of that night from Ed Farmer, Dave Logan, Mitch Michaels, Jeff Schwartz and Lorelei Shark. Before a crowd of more than 50,000 at old Comiskey Park on July 12, 1979, Dahl, then a 24-year-old morning host at The Loop, exploded a box of disco records between games at a White Sox double-header. Rowdy fans stormed the field, forcing the White Sox to forfeit their second game.

Paul M. Banks

No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry is the title of a new book by Paul M. Banks, the sports podcaster and Chicago Now blogger who operates It's a collection of his essays and blog posts over the years, with particular focus on Chicago teams and personalities. Banks calls it "a book about using the lens of sports to convey the state of journalism today and how we as a nation are responding to that."

Whitney Reynolds

Whitney Reynolds, host and executive producer of an inspirational weekly talk show she launched in 2010, has just added WILL in Champaign-Urbana to the list of PBS stations carrying her Chicago-based program. Joining Reynolds as producer of the show is Marianne Pestana, host of “Moments with Marianne” on iHeartRadio's podcast platform. In the Chicago area, "The Whitney Reynolds Show" airs at 10:30 a.m. Sundays on Lakeshore PBS WYIN-Channel 56.

Milos Stehlik

Milos Stehlik, founder of Facets Multimedia, is being remembered as a passionate champion of international film for more than four decades in Chicago. Stehlik, 70, died of cancer Saturday at his home in Lincoln Park. In addition to his role as film curator and artistic director of the non-profit cinema arts organization he founded in 1975, Stehlik was a longtime film critic and contributor to “Worldview,” the global affairs program on Chicago Public Media WBEZ 91.5-FM. Calling Stehlik “one of my greatest teachers,” Steve Bynum, senior producer of “Worldview,” said in an online tribute: “He taught me that beauty, rather than something we create, is always-existent, waiting to be discovered. He inspires me still – to venture out and travail, with no regard for fear, in empathy and with relentless passion. Self-discovery and community-building through film was Milos’ prescription to heal our human brokenness.”

Friday’s comment of the day: Phil Ponce: Scott Stantis is a caring and thoughtful person. His decency and humanity underly his work. Whether you agree with his viewpoints or not, his compass is equal parts head and heart. I am grateful to him for making me think and admire him for wanting to continue to grow.