‘Trib’ Staffers: Lipinski Departure ‘A Huge Loss’

By: Joe Strupp

Staffers at the Chicago Tribune and colleagues of departing Editor Ann Marie Lipinski greeted this week’s announcement of her pending departure with sadness and concern.

While most agreed the Tribune would continue to do good work, many feared the loss of such a strong, experienced and committed editor would at least temporarily mar the paper’s efforts.

“She’s a huge loss,” said James Warren, managing editor/features and a 24-year Tribune veteran. “A very sophisticated editor of great intelligence, breadth and depth with real journalistic chops. A very successful newsroom leader in a very tortuous time.”

Warren would not comment specifically on Lipinski’s replacement, Gerould Kern, but said the change in leadership brings “an unavoidable period of significant ambiguity,” adding that it is also impacted by “significant pending layoffs, significant pending newsprint reduction and the coming of a very different editor.”

Lisa Anderson, the paper’s New York bureau chief, said in an e-mail that Lipinski “devoted her career to making it a newspaper of which we all could be proud.

“I know that when she first crossed the threshold of Tribune Tower 30 years ago she never could have imagined the forces now racking the industry and rocking the very foundations of our 161-year-old newspaper,” Anderson added. “We know she did her utmost to keep them at bay.”

Jill Zuckman, a prominent Tribune Washington, D.C., staffer stated: “This is a very sad day. I admire Ann Marie and felt privileged to work for her.”

Several Tribune staffers declined to speak on the record, but said anonymously that the change in leadership would be detrimental: “She is a very respected figure here,” said one reporter. “She advocated for space and reporters.”

For Dean Baquet, a former Tribune reporter who shared a Pulitzer Prize with Lipinski in 1988, her departure is significant. “It is a huge loss to the Chicago Tribune,” said Baquet, now The New York Times D.C. bureau chief. “To not have her there when all papers need creative thinking. She believes in Chicago, she loves Chicago deeply.”

Still, other Lipinski fans, such as Tribune Washington, D.C., bureau chief Michael Tackett, said the paper will survive. “Any great newspaper is guided by its editor,” he said. “But it is also more than merely its editor. As big a loss as Ann Marie is, the paper will come out tomorrow, the next day and the day after that. It is up to those who remain to make it a great newspaper.”

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