Chicago Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens, others call for buyout

Stevens’ redemption request has not yet been accepted. Employees represented by the union must know if their candidacy has been accepted by June 21. Their last day would be June 25, unless they negotiate otherwise.

Non-union members, such as those in leadership positions, have already had their buyout requests confirmed or denied. For those who are accepted, the last working day is Friday.

Amy Carr, director of the newspaper’s life and culture, is one of them. Carr oversees coverage of the Tribune’s features, including entertainment, lifestyles, food, travel and more. She has been in the Tribune since 2013 and previously worked for TimeOut Chicago and the Daily Herald.

Other editors have bought out Mary Ellen Podmolik and Jonathon Berlin, according to a source familiar with the matter. Podmolik has been content director for the newspaper’s business coverage since late 2015. She joined the newspaper in 2008 and covered the housing crisis before becoming editor-in-chief. Berlin, who has also been at the Tribune since 2008, is Content Director for Data and Graphics.

The editorial staff will also experience an exodus, with the departure of Lara Weber and Steve Chapman.

Weber worked in newsrooms for 25 years, most in the Tribune, and made a stint with the Peace Corps around 2000. She said she had no future plans to announce. “Wherever I go, however, I will always support the success of my Tribune family,” she said in an email.

Chapman started in the Tribune in 1981 as a columnist and began writing a twice weekly column the following year. He said he plans to continue writing columns for his union, Creators.

Entertainment editor Scott Powers also takes the buyout, ending more than 20 years at the newspaper. He tweeted his decision on Monday.

“It was also an honor to help cover the vital and thriving art scene here, not only at the Tribune, but also many years ago at The Sun-Times with its own set of top art critics,” said Powers tweeted. “If this sounds like a retirement note, it isn’t. . . I am ready for the next step.

Other departures include standards editor Margaret Holt, who has worked at the Tribune since 1993; Joe Biesk, editor-in-chief of the political team; Aly Brumback, editor for audience and engagement; Georgia Garvey, editor of the Lake County News Sun and Pioneer Press; Eric Krol, deputy editor-in-chief of investigations; Stéphanie Reynolds, editor-in-chief; Holly Napoli, executive assistant; and Melody Potempa, editorial coordinator; according to a source familiar with the matter.

Editor Colin McMahon emailed editorial staff on Monday afternoon congratulating those leaving for their accomplishments and thanking them for their contributions. He also warned of the profound change facing the newsroom.

“The next two weeks are going to be extremely difficult for everyone in the newsroom. Many talented journalists cherished by readers and colleagues will come out,” the email said. “I don’t know what a final list will look like. Too much is moving. But it will be a huge number of people and a huge waste of talent, passion and courage.”

McMahon said in the email that many of the remaining employees will likely see changes in their reporting structure, assignments and schedules. There could also be changes in the way print and digital platforms are managed, he said.

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