OLD Media Moves

Buyouts cut long-time staffers from Chicago Tribune business desk

March 14, 2008

Longtime Chicago Tribune stock market columnist Bill Barnhart is among five longtime business journalists who have accepted a buyout offer from the paper and will be leaving.

Also departing are Barnhart’s colleagues John Dowd, an assistant business editor who edits his column; Bill Sluis, who edits one of the real estate sections and writes on economic issues; Mary Umberger, who covers real estate; and Jon Van, who covers telecommunications.

“The business section has been home to a number of senior Tribune staffers, so the section is taking quite a hit,” says Barnhart. Apparently none of the positions will be filled. Barnhart says he plans to complete a book on U.S. Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens. “What happens after that depends in part on how well the book is received,” he says.

Bill BarnhartBarnhart is a former president of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Barnhart has been a business writer and editor for the Chicago Tribune since 1979. His daily column offers news and commentary on the stock, bond and currency markets.

In 1997, he began a column in the Sunday Tribune business section focusing on mutual fund investing. In addition, he airs a daily financial market report on Tribune Co.’s Chicago area cable television channel, CLTV.

Sluis wrote the “Business Outlook” column for the paper. Umberger worked with Sluis on a number of recent stories. When she started covering residential real estate at the Tribune in the early 1990s, she thought it would be a short-term gig until a “real” reporting job opened up. Then she discovered she liked it and the housing market exploded into the biggest boom in its history.

Van joined the paper in 1973 after six years at the Des Moines Register. He began covering the science beat in 1977, and later moved into covering technology.

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