Shakeup in the suburbs: Krug out at Pioneer Press
Chris Krug, who oversaw a redesign of the Pioneer Press newspapers and triggered an exodus of dozens of reporters, editors and top managers, is on his way out after 10 months as vice president and publisher of the suburban weekly chain.
Rumors of Krug’s departure were confirmed at a staff meeting Tuesday when his resignation was announced, effective at the end of the year.
No replacement will be named as group publisher. Instead, sources said, parent company Sun-Times Media will reorganize the unit under a "vertical business structure," which probably means aligning the north suburban papers with the Lake County News-Sun and the west suburban papers with the Naperville Sun.
The shakeup comes as Pioneer Press faces robust competition on several fronts, including The North Shore Weekend, published by John Conatser and edited by former Pioneer Press managing editor David Sweet; Shaw Media’s newly acquired Suburban Life newspapers, and Jack Ryan’s 22nd Century Media newspapers.
“There was once a time when the Pioneer franchise was so strong that nobody was willing to launch against it,” a former suburban publisher told me. “Now it’s so weakened that everything’s up for grabs.”
Krug, 44, who was hired last February shortly after Sun-Times Media was acquired by Wrapports LLC, arrived with a mandate to increase profitability and overhaul the print and digital products. Months of turmoil ensued, with mass defections on both the editorial and advertising sides and ongoing production problems associated with a complicated redesign unveiled in August.
A native of Pittsburgh and a graduate of Allegheny College, Krug previously held a variety of positions with the Northwest Herald, including general manager and executive editor.
Pioneer Press includes 32 weekly newspapers and associated websites.