Ask the Tribune tough (but fair) questions

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Many of my colleagues are afraid to speak out about being fired from the Chicago Tribune; I got one call today from a former co-worker (also laid off) who warned me that if I badmouthed my employer of 16 years, they could yank away my severance package. Though I was never told such a thing on my exit interview, I've never known this fine woman to stretch the truth, either.

I've said many times that I love the Tribune; have sent shout-outs to editors and even owner Sam Zell; that I wish all there well: This is taking the high road. But with the high road comes with tricky terrain and serpentine twists that are never easy to navigate. I can't sleep at night as it is, so if I wimp out on my responsibility to seek and speak the truth, what then?

Therefore: I think it is nothing more than honest journalism to ask, and ask again: Why did the Chicago Tribune seek to give out $13.3 million in bonuses to executives in the same week it laid off me and 52 of my colleagues? (When I hear the number 52, I think of that old trick game "52-Card Pickup," where you scatter a deck of cards across a room, and make the other poor shlep who agrees to play gather them up.)

Mike Parker of CBS2 in Chicago called me to do a TV interview, and though I was in Nashville for a Grand Ole Opry audition (in my dreams), I went into the local CBS station there and tapedthis piece today. I think my questions of Tribune brass are tough but fair, and hope I came off well. (We had to do the whole thing with a 2-second delay in my earpiece, which is like talking in echo canyon turned up to 11.)

Hats off to you Parker, you did an excellent job. Speaking of hats, I was thinking about wearing a cowboy hat and shades on camera, but...

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