Observations: Board impasse jeopardizes Chicago Reader; Co-editor Tracy Baim remains hopeful; John Chase returns to the Chicago Tribune

Chicago Reader

Comments on the media rhythm:

Leonard C. Goodman

An impasse among the members of the board of directors of the Chicago Reader threatens to derail its shift to a not-for-profit business model and undermine the alternative bi-weekly’s editorial independence after more than 50 years. All of this can be attributed to the singularly bad decision to allow Leonard C. Goodman, a Chicago criminal defense attorney and co-owner of the Reader since 2018, to venture into the opinion column. Goodman’s 21st column, Vaxxing Our Kids: Why I’m Not Rushing To Get My Six-Year-Old Vaccinated Against COVID-19, published Nov. 24, sparked calls for fact-checking — a move that Goodman called a First Amendment problem and decried as censorship. Although his column still appears online as written, the denial has led Goodman and his allies to demand scrutiny of the nonprofit Reader Institute for Community Journalism and fire the co-publisher. Tracy Baim as president and co-treasurer of the new non-profit organization. In a statement supporting the transfer of ownership, the Chicago News Guild noted that the jobs of 34 staff members were at stake. “The delay resulting from these dangerous demands jeopardizes Reader’s ability to continue operations,” said the syndicate. “The time has come for the board and owners to release the Reader.” Ally Marotti of Crain’s company in Chicago first realized the deadlock.

Tracy Baim

What happens next? Insiders say the issue could be resolved this week when Goodman meets with the co-owner Elzie Higginbottom to arbitrate the dispute. For Tracy Baim, the legendary journalist caught in the middle, it’s cause for hope: “Our main concerns right now are the true independence of the nonprofit board and the editorial independence of our editors,” Baim told me. “I am truly grateful for the support that Elzie Higginbottom and Leonard C. Goodman have provided in saving the Reader over the past three plus years. We would not be here today without them both. I am saddened that it took a horrible detour just before the sale, but I hope we can break this impasse soon. They saved the Reader once. I hope they can agree to terms that can save the Reader again.

John Chase

John Chase, Director of Investigations Association for Better Government, quits government watchdog group after five years to join the Chicago Grandstand. From March 7, he will become deputy editor of the Metro, overseeing politics and government. “Please join me in welcoming John to the team as we prepare for the 2002 midterms, a competitive race for governors and more,” the Tribune editor said. Mitch Poug write to staff. Chase previously spent 18 years as a reporter for the Tribune, following stints at the Daily Herald and Chicago’s City News Bureau. With Jeff COEN he wrote to Golden: How? ‘Or’ What Rod Blagojevitch He got kicked out of the governor’s office and went to jail.

Rob Cressman

Rob Cressman announced his departure last week after six years as program director of WDRV 97.1-FM, Hubbard Radio’s classic rock station. Cressman served as senior vice president of programming for iHeartMedia Stations in Indianapolis before joining The Drive in 2016. “We will miss Rob, his contributions to our success are greatly appreciated,” Jeff England, vice president and chief market officer of Hubbard Radio Chicago, said in a statement. “We are happy for him and wish him nothing but the best in his next chapter.” No word yet on a replacement.

ryan maguire

Ryan Maguire, Chicago White Sox Radio Network executive producer at ESPN sports/talk WMVP 1000-AM, was hired by parent company Good Karma Brands as chief content officer for WTMJ and WKTI in Milwaukee. Prior to joining ESPN 1000 in 2020, he programmed stations in Seattle, Miami, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Milwaukee. Maguire doubled as columnist and news director for Barrett Sports Media. “I will miss working with everyone in the Windy City; specifically, Len Kasper, Darrin Jackson, Connor McKnight and all of our team that put together the White Sox radio shows last season,” he told BSM. “I’m happy to call them friends for life.”

Abbott Elementary School

Sheryl Lee Ralph and Lisa Anne Walter, stars of ABC’s hit series “Abbott Elementary,” will headline a virtual event on Feb. 22 sponsored by Chicago’s Audiovisual Communications Museum. Hosea Sanders, A reporter for WLS-Channel 7, owned by ABC, will host a Q&A with guests, followed by the screening of the show’s pilot. It starts at 7 p.m.Here is the link for the tickets.) “What better way to celebrate Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March than with this incredibly talented cast of the hottest comedy on TV right now?” noted Andrea Darlas, responsible for the museum’s programming.

Dave Hoekstra

Recommended reading: The February issue of New city reveals the compelling story behind a screenplay written in 1974 by Chicago journalism legends and Pulitzer Prize winners Roger Ebert and mike royko which was never produced. Titled “The Adventures of a Suburban Guerrilla,” it dramatized the exploits of a suburban biology professor turned environmental activist known as The Fox. Dave Hoekstra, the Chicago author, documentary filmmaker and former Sun-Times columnist learns about the Ebert/Royko collaboration and recalls his own 50-year interest in The Fox (aka Jim Phillips) in The Fox and Friends: The Enduring Legacy of a Mild-mannered Biology Teacher by Day and Eco-Sabotage Superhero by Night. (Here is the link.)

David Hochberg

Hats off to the Mortgage Broker David Hochberg, host of “Home Sweet Home Chicago” Saturdays on Nexstar Media news/talk WGN 720-AM. In collaboration with Chicago Alderman Matt O’Shea, Hochberg raised more than $203,000 on Saturday during a three-hour session Vest-a-thon fundraiser to buy bulletproof vests for Chicago police officers. (Here is the link to donate.) Hochberg said the benefit for the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation received “overwhelming support” from the Chicago radio community, with many stations donating commercial time to promote the radiothon.

Today’s comment from Friday: Candice Okay: The sale of stolen goods is not always the sole motivation for theft. Sometimes it’s all about possession. I am thinking of Roman Totenberg’s Ames Stradivarius, stolen in 1980 and found in 2015, four years after the death of the violinist who stole it. Even his widow was unaware of the existence of the violin until she found it in a trunk. You’re right about the registry, though. The instrument was recognized immediately and reported.