Tribune Publishing has just replaced Elizabeth Fenner, the editor of Chicago magazine, with Susanna Homan, creator and publisher of Splash.
Let me restate this in personal terms. Out is an editor of a magazine that my wife and I read whenever we visit our daughter, a subscriber, and have been so impressed with it that we were about to take out a subscription ourselves. In is the head of a celebrity-fixated insert into the Sunday Sun-Times that we throw away without looking at it.
The change, which also makes Homan publisher of Chicago, is obviously the hand of new Tribune Publishing chairman Michael Ferro at work. Splash was his creation at the Sun-Times, and in a long, indulgent profile in Friday’s Tribune he calls it a success. Before launching Splash for Ferro, Homan was founding editor of the luxury lifestyle magazine Michigan Avenue , and she freelanced a weekly about-town column for the Sun-Times called Susanna’s Night Out.
Fenner became editor of Chicago in 2011. She’d spent the previous three years as assistant managing editor of Time Inc.’s Money magazine, and she’d earlier been executive editor of Women’s Health. By the crude, seat-of-your-pants standards by which journalists categorize each other, she brought to Chicago the status of “serious journalist,” and did nothing here to call that standing into question. When she was axed, Chicago associate editor Whet Moser tweeted that he was “grateful to @bethfenner for her tremendous support and the freedom she gave me. the mag has been excellent under her care.”
LRT: grateful to @bethfenner for her tremendous support and the freedom she gave me. the mag has been excellent under her care.
— Whet Moser (@whet) March 11, 2016
Just the other day, Fenner and Chicago political writer Carol Felsenthal had lunch and discussed Felsenthal’s future projects. Friday afternoon Fenner called to tell her she’d been axed.
“She loved her job . . . and she had a great interest in politics,” Felsenthal says. As for Homan, Felsenthal doesn’t know her and is only vaguely familiar with her output. For some reason, Michigan Avenue comes in the mail though Felsenthal didn’t ask for it, “and I throw it right in the garbage can.” Splash “was like to me some kind of joke that went along with my formerly favorite newspaper, the Sun-Times.”