The Chicago Tribune was established in 1847 by Joseph Medill, whose famous last words were, ’What’s the news?’ Claire Atkinson tells you how to pitch the arts and entertainment section of the legendary daily
The Chicago Tribune was established in 1847 by Joseph Medill, whose
famous last words were, ’What’s the news?’ Claire Atkinson tells you how
to pitch the arts and entertainment section of the legendary daily
Joseph Medill built a newspaper whose influence in the Windy City is
still great today. The daily is read by around a quarter of all
Chicagoland households, rising to a third on a Sunday, according to the
newspaper’s own statistics. The title is also the fifth-largest
metropolitan daily in the country behind The New York Times, Los Angeles
Times, Washington Post and the New York Daily News.
Chicago is a thriving cultural center, where some people choose tickets
for Oprah and Jerry Springer, others for the opera and the city’s myriad
art exhibitions. Sometimes the two merge. Earlier this month, Winfrey
acquired two fiberglass cows that had formed part of a huge outdoor art
exhibition that attracted two million tourists.
The paper’s daily arts and entertainment section, Tempo, is led by
editor Tim Bannon. He moved across the road from the Chicago Sun-Times
in 1995 and says he has tried to give the Tribune’s arts and
entertainment coverage a populist touch. ’We were a bit esoteric,’ he
says, ’now we are more geared toward pop culture.’
The section has upped its movie and TV news but, Bannon insists, not at
the expense of other subjects. Tempo ran a Pulitzer prize-winning series
by architecture critic Blair Kamin on lakefront development. The section
has a new column called Info Culture about media and the information
age. The column is written by Julia Keller, who wrote a caustic piece on
TV sports journalism this month.
First stop with pros
Bannon claims there isn’t too much rivalry between the Tribune and the
Sun-Times for interview subjects, but says most public relations pros
see the Tribune as their first stop because of its number-one
Sales figures published November 10 by the Audit Bureau of Circulations
show the Monday to Friday average circulation at 618,000, against the
Sun-Times’ 468,000. The gap is even wider on Sunday; figures for the six
months to September show the Tribune busting a million, against the
Hollinger-owned Sun-Times’ circulation of 402,000.
Tempo goes to press usually around two days before it appears on the
stands. Bannon describes the section as ’everything under the sun,’ with
food columns, some fashion writing, rock and classical music reviews,
theater, books and the arts.
Tempo recently carried a piece on actor John Malkovich, who once lived
in Chicago. The article aimed to detail the actor’s favorite haunts, in
a parody style that mimicked the movie Being John Malkovich.
Bannon describes another recent story on the opening of an Icelandic
phallus museum for which he was unable to find any artwork. The coverage
is not restricted to Chicago since the paper has a bureau in New York
and Los Angeles and his critics pay frequent visits to both.
The Tempo editor says that the best way to contact him is via
CTC-Tempo@tribune.com or CTC-Arts@tribune.com. Bannon encourages pros to
pitch him as long as they have an original angle. ’Good PR pros are the
ones with the ideas.
When you are just marketing a product, we can see that,’ he says.
Bannon does not deal with ’who, what, where’ material, which is the
domain of Kevin Moore, another Sun-Times veteran and editor of the
Moore advises that all review material such as books and CDs should be
addressed to his colleague Bannon. He also wants PR pros to call rather
than e-mail. Moore wants to know about upcoming events as far in advance
as possible, as the entertainment section gets filled quickly.
While Bannon is more interested in trends, Moore is probably a better
person to ask if you want to find the best blackened catfish or deep
dish pizza. He is heavily involved in the newspaper’s entertainment web
output, called MetroMix, which has an alliance with AOL’s Digital
The newspaper was one of the first media companies to heavily immerse
itself in new media. Parent group Tribune Company ran ahead of the pack
with a series of savvy web investments such as AOL and iVillage.
The Tribune Company, which has a market capitalization of dollars 14
billion, was also ranked the number-one most admired publishing company
by Fortune in 1999. About 90% of employees hold stock. The company also
holds a stake in the WB Network and Food Network.
The Chicago Tribune benefits from the fact that many of its staff
contribute to all manner of outlets, which often share the same stories
from a single server. The Tribune Company owns variety and talk radio
station WGN and cable station CLTV, among other properties. It has seen
its stock rise steadily since January, from dollars 29 to a 52 week high
of dollars 60.
At time of press it was dollars 59. The Chicago Tribune alone recorded
revenues of dollars 808 million, according to the 1998 report.
However, with circulation figures down and web sites eroding classified
advertising revenue, one wonders if the newspaper will be facing the
same challenges as the arts.
435 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611-4041
Tel: (312) 222 3232
Fax: (312) 222-4479
Associate managing editor, entertainment: Geoff Brown
Tempo/arts & entertainment editor: Tim Bannon
Deputy Tempo/arts & entertainment editor: Linda Bergstrom
Friday section editor: Kevin Moore
Friday film editor: Heather Lajewkski
Tempo assistant editors: Marcia Borucki, Jeff Lyon, Kaarin Tisue
Tempo assistant editor/ArtsWatch (reviews) editor: Mo Ryan
Tempo night editor: Marjorie David
Good eating editor: Carol Haddix
Dining editor: Leigh Behrens
Restaurant critic: Phil Vettel
Food writer: William Rice
TV editor: Karen Olson
TV critic: Steve Johnson
Rock critic: Greg Kot
Arts critic: Howard Reich
Classical music critic: John von Rhein
Movie critic: Michael Wilmington
Architecture critic: Blair Kamin