TribLocal outsources itself out of the news business

Robservations on the media beat:

  • I used to look forward to receiving TribLocal, the weekly hyperlocal news insert in my Chicago Tribune. But now it’s become a worthless piece of garbage. Ever since Tribune Co. fired or reassigned all of its writers and outsourced its content to an outfit called Journatic, the new TribLocal makes Pioneer Press look exemplary by comparison. In its first three weeks, I’ve seen nothing in this new rag but press releases, computer-generated junk and, of course, ads. Major news stories in my suburb are completely ignored. What passes for a police blotter is a long list of street names, one- or two-word descriptions, and a time and date. (This is what you get when you have a staff of four people overseeing 22 publications and 89 websites.) “We’ve made an investment in this company because we believe that it is a more effective way of providing hyperlocal news, and we think we can do more of it in this way,” Tribune editor Gerould Kern said of the Journatic deal. Gerry, believe me, it’s worse than an embarrassment. It’s a fraud.

  • Michael Ferro wowed the crowd at the City Club luncheon last week when he boasted that his ambitious plans for the Sun-Times would turn it into “the No. 1 local newspaper in [the] U.S.” If that’s the goal, then the paper’s new owner will have to do better than the lineup of “30 Chicago notables” posing as guest columnists in Susanna Negovan’s new Daily Splash section. Gary Sinise’s self-serving plug for his foundation Monday was a disappointing opener, to say the least. One reaction: “Hey, @GarySinise, it’s not Veteran's Day, and it's not about you,” tweeted Steve Dahl. Another: “Right now . . . Irv Kupcinet is rolling over in his grave to hide his face in shame so as not to view the list of the latest ‘columnists’ unveiled Monday by his beloved newspaper,” blogged Kathy Posner.

  • You’d have to go back 22 years to find the last time WBBM-Channel 2 ranked No. 2 in the market from sign-on to sign-off during a May ratings period. But the CBS-owned station just did it again — and was the only local station to grow year-to-year in household ratings, according to Nielsen figures for May. Nevertheless, ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 again dominated the market and won in every news time period.

  • It’s been almost two years since Cesar Canales moved to San Antonio with his wife, Brenda Carmona, former news anchor at Univision WGBO-Channel 66. Despite the distance, Canales has continued to serve as head of programming and operations at Univision Radio’s five-station group in Chicago and programming strategies for the central region. Until now. Canales has just been appointed vice president and general manager of Univision Radio’s Dallas cluster. No replacement has been named for him in Chicago.

  • Rod Perth, former vice president and station manager at CBS 2 here, has been named president and CEO of the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE). He succeeds Rick Feldman as head of the trade group and marketplace for syndicated programming. After 28 years at CBS (including head of late-night programming), Perth was president of television for ReelzChannel, president of Jim Henson Television Worldwide and president of USA Networks Entertainment.

  • Our old friend Dave Shakes, a key player in the rise of WBBM-FM (96.3) to one of the top contemporary-hit radio stations in the country as program director in the early ’90s, has rejoined CBS Radio. He’s just been named PD of KZON-FM and KOOL-FM in Phoenix. He succeeds another former Chicagoan, WKSC-FM (103.5) veteran Rick Gillette, who shifted to WXRK-FM in New York. Shakes most recently was chief programming officer for Results Radio in Santa Rosa, California.

  • Rick Klein’s Museum of Classic Chicago Television reported the death last week of Elaine Mulqueen, who played the harlequin pixie-clown host Pandora on Kiddie-A-Go-Go, the ’60s Chicago children’s show produced by her husband, Jack Mulqueen. Her nephew, Daniel Pazak, confirmed her passing May 20, telling Klein the loss “leaves the world a little less joyful today.”



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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)