‘Chicago Tribune’ Editor Lipinski Resigns — Kern Takes Over

By: Joe Strupp

Ann Marie Lipinski, editor of the Chicago Tribune, has resigned, she revealed in a memo to staff today.

The memo, obtained by E&P, said in part, “There is much to do and your new owners should have their own editor, compatible with their style and goals, so today Bob will name my successor. He inherits a treasure in this newspaper and this staff, and I will count on you to continue to work hard on our readers? behalf, just as you have done in the years we have been together.”

With the departures earlier this year of former Los Angeles Times Editor James O’Shea and former Managing Editor Marcus Brauchli of The Wall Street Journal, as well as the recent announcement that Leonard Downie Jr. of The Washington Post would leave in September, Lipinski becomes the fourth editor of a major newspaper to exit in 2008.

Lipinski announced her resignation a week after the paper revealed plans to cut 80 newsroom positions and reduce the number of pages it prints each week. Her last day will be Thursday, according to a story on the paper’s Web site.

Gerould W. Kern, Tribune Publishing vice president of editorial since 2003, was named Lipinski’s successor by Tribune Publishing Executive Vice President Bob Gremillion, who assumed interim oversight of the paper this month after the retirement of Publisher Scott C. Smith, the paper reported.

“I am deeply honored and excited to rejoin the Chicago Tribune,” Kern, said in a statement. “This is a critical time in the history of this great newspaper, but I am confident that we will meet the challenges ahead. The Chicago Tribune has a long history of innovation in the face of change, and our staff possesses the talent, vision and drive to lead us into the future.”

Lipinski, who joined the paper as an intern in 1978, was named the newspaper’s 20th editor in 2001. She could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

“I began my editorship seven months before 9/11 and in the seven years since have become accustomed and even comfortable with editing and managing through crisis and change,” she wrote in her memo Monday. “But professionally, this position is not the fit it once was. Personally, my family and I believe it is time.”??

The Tribune won Pulitzer Prizes in international reporting, feature writing, explanatory reporting, editorial writing and investigative reporting under Lipinski, who shared a 1988 Pulitzer Prize herself as one of three reporters responsible for a series of stories about corruption involving Chicago’s City Council, the paper reported.

The paper added that: “Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co.’s situation is exacerbated by the need to service debt incurred in a heavily leveraged $8.2 billion deal engineered by real estate billionaire Sam Zell to take the Chicago-based media company private.”

Lipinski’s entire memo is posted below:

*************************

July 14, 2008

Dear Colleagues,

Last month I wrote to say how much I valued your intelligence, professionalism and creativity and that I knew of no smarter or more inventive newsroom. Yet even in that I did not take your full measure. In recent weeks, faced with the call to reinvent your paper while reducing your ranks, you have shown new levels of commitment to your work and our readers and I could not be more grateful or awed.

For that reason and so many others, it is especially hard to tell you today that I have decided to resign. That decision was difficult and a long time coming and it would be inaccurate to attribute it to any one event. I began my editorship seven months before 9/11 and in the seven years since have become accustomed and even comfortable with editing and managing through crisis and change. But professionally, this position is not the fit it once was. Personally, my family and I believe it is time.

In earlier conversations with Scott Smith, and most recently with Bob Gremillion, I have expressed a desire to consider something new and I am grateful for the deep respect they showed me throughout those discussions. At the same time, there is much to do and your new owners should have their own editor, compatible with their style and goals, so today Bob will name my successor. He inherits a treasure in this newspaper and this staff, and I will count on you to continue to work hard on our readers? behalf, just as you have done in the years we have been together.

I arrived here as a summer intern and many summers later my heart still skips a beat at the sight of the Tower and all it represents to this great city. Your newspaper is both a joy and a powerful engine for good. The evidence of that is too abundant to recount here, but permit me one recollection from our stewardship. Do you remember the night an innocent man walked out of death row and came to this newsroom to thank you for the journalism that had set him free? Because of you, there are many men at home with their families today who the state would have put to death, yet that is but one of your accomplishments. I can?t tell you how proud you have made me?for those stories, yes, but for the many ways you found to serve our communities, reimagine our portfolio across print and online and keep your heads above the storms. I believe in this newspaper, and know there is no better group to shape its future.

I will be here through Thursday and will look forward to talking with many of you directly. As I take my leave, it is with a fierce affection for you all, even those?and in many ways especially those?who have challenged me most. I will miss you, and not just a little.

Thank you for the honor and privilege of having served alongside you. Take care of our Tribune.


Ann Marie

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