‘Chicago Sun-Times,’ ‘Trib’ Poach Each Other’s Sports Columnists

By: Mark Fitzgerald

Though the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times are hobbled with financial problems and have been better known for their mass layoffs than new hires in the past couple of years, the rivalry remains intense in the important sports franchise — and there’s new movement between the papers.

Saturday, the Sun-Times announced on its front pages that it has hired Rick Morrissey away from the Tribune, where he had written the Tribune’s venerable “In the wake of the news” sports column since 2000. The Oak Park, Ill., native had been a writer at the Tribune since 1997 after returning to Chicago following 10 years as a sportswriter for the old Rocky Mountain News.

He arrives at the Sun-Times that has been bought out from bankruptcy under a new owner, and more than a year and a half after columnist Jay Mariotti quit the paper in a well-publicized split.

”I’m excited to be a part of this,” Morrissey told the Sun-Times. ”I see nothing but good things ahead for the Sun-Times. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the paper.”

Sun-Times Sports Editor Chris De Luca said, ‘Adding Rick Morrissey is a major step forward as we continue to improve what is and has long been Chicago’s best sports section. Now we have the best one-two punch in the country with Rick Morrissey and Rick Telander providing their award-winning commentary.”

De Luca has been sports editor since Nov. 18 — a result of the defection of his predecessor, Stu Courtney, to the Tribune, where he is editor of the newly launched chicagobreakingsports.com.

Morrisey’s flip to the Sun-Times follows by less than a week the move of Dan McNeil’s weekly column to the Tribune from the Sun-Times. McNeil is a commentator with a local sports-oriented radio station.

”Adding Rick to our already top-flight sports staff shows how serious we are about being the best and staying the best,” Sun-Times Editor in Chief Don Hayner said. ”Nobody competes in this market as hard as we do. This is our city.”

In a memo to staff announcing Morrisey’s departure, Mike Kellams, the Tribune’s associate managing editor for sports, said, ‘Rick has been a great colleague at the Tribune and we wish him well in this new chapter of his career.”

“In the wake of the news” is one of the most prestigious sports columns among daily newspapers, with its past writers including Ring Lardner. In September, the Tribune announced that David Haugh was joining Morrissey as an “In the wake” columnist.

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