Robservations: Chicago Tribune, BGA win Pulitzer Prize; Daily Herald hires climate change reporter; MediaTracks scales back after sale of shows

Chicago Tribune and Better Government Association

Robservations on the media beat:

The Chicago Tribune and the Better Government Association shared the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting Monday. Tribune reporter Cecilia Reyes and BGA reporter Madison Hopkins collaborated on “The Failures Before the Fires,” a two-year investigation called "a piercing examination of the city’s long history of failed building- and fire-safety code enforcement, which let scofflaw landlords commit serious violations that resulted in dozens of unnecessary deaths." It was the first Pulitzer in the 99-year history of the BGA, the nonprofit newsroom and government watchdog agency. "There's a lot left to be done,” David Greising, president and CEO of the BGA, said in a statement. “The city is little better off today than it was when dozens of people died in preventable fires. A ‘problem landlords’ list does not keep people safe." It's the Tribune's 28th Pulitzer — and its first since 2017. With editing led by Kaarin Tisue at the Tribune and David Kidwell and John Chase at the BGA, “The Failures Before the Fires” also received four awards at the Chicago Headline Club’s Peter Lisagor Awards ceremony Friday.

Jennifer Whidden

Joining the staff of the Daily Herald in June will be reporter Jennifer Whidden, who’ll cover climate and environmental issues in the suburbs. The Rolling Meadows native and Marquette University graduate was hired in cooperation with the national journalism resource Report For America. Whidden, who most recently covered New Hampshire politics for the Granite State News Cooperative, previously worked for the Star Ledger in Newark, New Jersey, and interned for the Chicago Tribune. “We’re excited about the breadth of reporting Jennifer will add to the Daily Herald’s coverage and the new insights she’ll bring on everything from the health of our prime water source in Lake Michigan to the quality of our air and the vitality of our gardens,” said managing editor Jim Slusher.

MediaTracks Communications

MediaTracks Communications, the Des Plaines-based producer of syndicated public-affairs radio programming, has sold its long-running “Radio Health Journal” and “Viewpoints Radio” to American Urban Radio Networks. The two shows air weekly on nearly 1,500 stations in more than 200 markets nationwide. MediaTracks founders Shel Lustig and Reed Pence will stay on as voice talents of "Radio Health Journal" (as they have for 30 years) and continue to operate their media relations division. All of the company's staff will continue with American Urban Radio Networks. "While we’re not retiring, we are scaling back a bit, giving ourselves the opportunity to spend more time with family and friends without the weekly pressures of getting two national shows out to some 1,500 affiliates," Lustig told me. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Broker for the seller was Bob Heymann of the Chicago office of Media Services Group.

Marquee Sports Network

Marquee Sports Network, the joint venture of the Chicago Cubs and Sinclair Broadcast Group, announced an agreement Monday with DirecTV to carry the regional sports network nationwide. (Live regular season Cubs and Sky games will be excluded outside of Cubs television territory.) “Our goal has always been to deliver Cubs content as well as all of our programming to fans nationwide, and we’re thankful for this expanded carriage agreement with DirecTV,” Mike McCarthy, general manager of Marquee Sports Network, said in a statement.

Crain's Chicago Business

Monday marked a relaunch of the longest running daily newsletter published by Crain’s Chicago Business. Formerly known as Today's Crain's, it's been rechristened the Afternoon 10, modeled after the format of Crain's Morning 10, now the company's most successful digital product. (Here is the link to subscribe.)

Monday’s comment of the day: Edward M. Bury: A round of applause for the team at WBEZ for exposing the sexual abuse that took place by Chicago lifeguards — city workers charged with keeping people safe at pools and beaches. This raises a question: What other kind of despicable acts are taking place within governmental bodies or departments that we have not yet learned about? Let's support local journalism that exposes other alleged crimes.