'Jay the Rat'? Mariotti arrest dredges up old animosities

August 23, 2010

Jay Mariotti

Robservations on the media beat:

  • The most talked about media story of the weekend was the arrest of former Sun-Times sports columnist Jay Mariotti on a domestic assault complaint involving his girlfriend in Los Angeles. Mariotti, who now writes for AOL's Fanhouse.com and appears on ESPN's "Around The Horn," was booked on a felony charge and released on $50,000 bail. The arrest followed years of columns by Mariotti in which he "harshly criticized athletes for their involvement in domestic violence against their girlfriends and wives" --  as gleefully recounted on sports blogs and elsewhere --  right up until last week. Although the Sun-Times buried the story on Page 53 in the sports section of Sunday's edition, former colleague‚ Roger Ebert couldn't resist tweeting a link to his 2008 farewell column to Mariotti, subtly titled "Jay the Rat." Interesting, too, that the worldwide show biz site TMZ, which called Mariotti "famous" in its headline, considered him a bigger star than the Chicago newspaper that made him one.
  • If you took all the people who've left WFLD-Channel 32 in the past year, you could put together one heck of a local news organization. The latest to learn he's out at the Fox-owned station is weekend and fill-in meteorologist Chris Sowers, whose contract won't be renewed in October. He'll join an illustrious list of exiles from Fox Chicago that includes Jill Carlson, Lilia Chacon, Lauren Cohn, Jack Conaty, Jeff Goldblatt, Byron Harlan, Anne Kavanagh, Nancy Loo, David Novarro, Nancy Pender and David Viggiano. In her emotional farewell Sunday night, Pender told viewers: "As you probably noticed, the winds of change are blowing pretty hard through this station, setting it in a new direction. It's been my honor and privilege to sit in this chair bringing you the weekend news for the past 13 years. . . . I thank you for making this one of the highest rated newscasts at WFLD." Anyone miss the irony of that?
  • The Chicago Tribune's brand new iPhone app includes a feature to view live streams of Twitter posts from Trib staffers. Good thing it's rated "not suitable for children under the age of 12," considering this tweet last Friday from reporter Rex Huppke: "Going to the zoo today. If that one emu fucks with me again, I *will* cut him. Or her. Hard to tell on an emu. Lots of hair." It might be time to review the company's social media policy.
  • Aarti Sequeira, who debuted Sunday as host of Food Network's cooking variety show "Aarti Party" after winning the sixth season of‚  "The Next Food Network Star," has roots in Chicago media. Before graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and working as a production assistant for CNN here, she was an intern for Cisco Cotto in the news department of WLS-AM (890). Cotto now hosts middays at the Citadel Broadcasting news/talk‚ station.
  • Keep an eye on Maggie Carlo, who's been working as a per diem reporter at Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9 since last winter. Before she moved here to join her husband, a hedge fund manager in Chicago, Carlo had been a news anchor and reporter at KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City. Judging by the sendoff she received from her colleagues on the air and from fans online, they sure were crazy about her.
  • Two DePaul University classmates of Carlos Hernandez Gomez are working to establish a scholarship in the name of the late Chicago political reporter. To kick off the Carlos Hernandez Gomez Award in Journalism at DePaul, Mitchell Goldberg and Paul Fine will host a concert by The Gear, a band Gomez formed while attending the university. The event will be Sept. 5 at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont. (Here is the link for more information.) Gomez also will be honored this Friday -- on what would have been his 37th‚ birthday --  with the dedication of a Chicago street in his name. The veteran of Tribune Co.-owned CLTV and Chicago Public Media WBEZ-FM (91.5) died Jan. 17 after a long battle with cancer.
  • "Is 4:30 a.m. becoming the new prime time for news?" read the headline on the July 19 post here. So it was nice to see the Publicity Club of Chicago pick up on the theme for its Sept. 15 luncheon program, titled "Is Morning the New Prime Time for Chicago TV News?"Thom Clark of Community Media Workshop will moderate a panel of three morning show executive producers -- Sandy Pudar of WGN-Channel 9, Doug Whitmire of WLS-Channel 7 and Todd Woolman of WFLD-Channel 32. The luncheon will be at noon at Maggiano's, 516 N. Clark. (Here is the link for more information.)
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