Thursday, October 23, 2008

Goodbye, Chicago Tribune!

I loved working at the Chicago Tribune! Unfortunately I felt it was better for my career to move on and take another opportunity. Here's a photo essay about my experience working there.

It's a beautiful old building with lots of history and class. Being right on Michigan Ave was fun. While all the tourists were gawking at pieces of castles and churches embedded in the walls of the Tribune building, I'd walk right in to go to work. And there were great places to go during lunch, like the nearby Viet Nam memorial on the Chicago River. I got to watch the Cubs' 2008 division-clinching game from the Tribune's box suite. I enjoyed pizza on the building's 22nd floor balcony. One early excitement was our president dumping $1 million cash in singles on the office floor to challenge us to come up with fantastic ideas. The idea was that if our idea could generate a 3:1 ROI, our idea would get funded with that $1 million. (Alas, falling revenues and changing priorities caused them to back off of that initiative.) At the elevators down to my office in Tribune Interactive, Sam Zell placed one of his personal sculptures called "Beaurocratic Shuffle", a fatcat businessman with seven legs. The offices of Tribune Interactive themselves are simply breathtaking. Formerly the location of the printing presses before they moved to the Freedom Center on Halsted street, they now are three-levels of glass meeting rooms and concrete catwalks. (I've included several historical photos of what the space looked like with the printing presses.) The actual content of the work was unlike any job I've been at before. The daily rhythm was dictated by what was happening in the news, because if a big event suddenly drew a lot of traffic to any of the Tribune websites, it could cause problems. It never got boring there, because events like the R. Kelley verdict, the Tim Russert passing, any number of hurricaines, the Sarah Palin announcement, the UAL stock panic, or spikes caused by a Barack Obama photo gallery link appearing on Digg or the Drudge Report, we'd constantly have to suspend whatever project we were working on to fix something. Also, there were interesting technical challenges created by over a dozen different newspapers sharing a common content management system which had new stories being added by the minute. Plus it was a great group of people too, of which several remain friends. So long!

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