November 23, 2015

The Chicago Tribune

Barbara Brotman has a lot to show for her nearly 38 years at the Chicago Tribune. Awards. Hundreds of letters from readers. Friendships that last a lifetime. And, as of this writing, a buyout package.

That’s according to the Tribune columnist’s latest piece, in which Brotman pays tribute to a newsroom that once “clattered with the sound of typewriters.”

I started here as a summer intern, a college student still living with my parents. I made lifelong friends here. I met my husband here. I brought my two daughters here, from when they were children who I tried to encourage through their major life changes, until now, when they are wise young women who turned the tables and encouraged me through this one.

Brotman, who joined The Chicago Tribune in 1978, is one of about 500 employees who are accepting a buyout offer from the Tribune’s parent company, Tribune Publishing. The headcount reduction is a cost-savings measure that comes amid a challenging time for the newspaper industry. In recent months, Tribune Publishing has weathered a drop in its stock price after revising a revenue projection following the public ouster of former Los Angeles Times Publisher Austin Beutner.

Brotman’s valedictory column is colored by fond memories of the Tribune, which empowered her to “capture a piece of life and freeze it on the page.”

How many more times would I get to chat with this or that colleague? How many times would I be surrounded by that fine aural wallpaper, the sound of my cubicle mates doing their phone interviews? How many more times would I walk past that desk where a photographer once stopped to talk, neither of us knowing that the conversation would end up in what at this point is 32 years of marriage?

In leaving the Tribune, Brotman will join her husband, a photographer who left the paper months ago.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
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