Observations about the Chicago Tribune newsroom

By Anastasia Forina

“A Gothic vision of the American skyscraper rises on Michigan Avenue,” wrote Blair Kamin, Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic of the Chicago Tribune about his newspaper’s 36-story building.

Constructed in 1925, it is modern inside and spacious. About 400 people work here on the fourth and fifth floors. In comparison, only 20 of us work in the Kyiv Post newsroom, my home paper.

Most of my time I spend on the fourth floor in the Tribune’s business department, with a friendly team of 20 people. Everybody’s workplace is fun to look at. One person has decorated it with photos; another has his or her awards on the desk. Somebody has bottles of beer; another has a reading lamp. Training shoes lie next to the desks – many reporters and some editors belong to the Tribune’s gym located on the ground floor. I have also joined it recently.

My work day here starts at about 10 a.m. and usually ends at about 7 p.m. I’m happy to have the opportunity to visit various events and conferences with my mentor, Tribune reporter Julie Wernau. It helps me to get a better understanding of the issues of interest to local residents. Also to find good story ideas and contacts.

I will soon have the chance to shadow colleagues from other departments such as the daily news and video departments.

The Tribune is a daily, so the newsroom is never empty. Sunday is perhaps the only day when there are not as many people as during the rest of the week. I have the weekend off but once stopped by on a Sunday to grab a paper and got acquainted with some of the weekend staff. They have their days off during the week. The schedule here is organized so that everybody has more or less fixed working hours — an advantage that is impossible to have in a tiny newsroom.

Nevertheless, I miss my home newsroom, my colleagues and that special atmosphere possible only in a small newsroom where we’re all aware of everyone else’s current projects.