Veteran Chicago Tribune editor Rochell Sleets is leaving the newspaper after 16 years to become managing editor of Newsday, the Long Island-based daily newspaper.
Sleets, 45, who rose through the editorial ranks to become co-news director at the Chicago Tribune, will head up the daily news operation at Newsday, a venerable tabloid once owned by Tribune’s former parent company.
“It was a really difficult decision,” Sleets said Wednesday. “I’ve broken history here as the first Black person to be news director. To have that opportunity to be able to make that impact in a beautifully complicated city, I don’t take for granted.”
A New Jersey native, Sleets joined the Tribune in 2007 as a design editor, becoming deputy director of features in 2018. In 2020, Sleets was named co-news director at the Tribune, overseeing coverage of arts and entertainment, business news, education and other topics.
She previously worked as an editor at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Kansas City Star.
“Obviously, it is disappointing to see such a talented journalist and passionate leader leave our newsroom,” Mitch Pugh, executive editor of the Tribune, said in a memo to employees. “Rochell’s influence on the Tribune has been profound.”
At the Tribune, Sleets led a number of initiatives as the newspaper navigated the disruption of the pandemic, producing live COVID-19 Facebook events with medical experts, increasing coverage of Black and Latino communities, and promoting diversity and inclusion within the newsroom.
Pugh said the Tribune plans to hire an experienced senior editor to “keep the newspaper moving in the right direction” and fill her role.
Sleets and her husband, who have four adult children, will be moving to Long Island for her new role at Newsday, which starts Feb. 27. Her last day at the Tribune will be Jan. 20.
“I felt at this point in my career, now that we’re empty-nesters, it was time to see what that next thing was,” Sleets said. “And when Newsday made the call … it felt like a really good fit.”
One of the nation’s largest independent newspapers, Newsday is owned by Patrick Dolan. In 2008, Tribune Co., the former parent of the Chicago Tribune, sold Newsday for $650 million to Cablevision, a Long Island-based cable provider owned by the Dolan family. In 2016, Dolan reacquired Newsday after it was packaged as part of the $17.7 billion sale of Cablevision to European telecom giant Altice.
The Chicago Tribune and other Tribune Publishing newspapers were acquired by hedge fund Alden Global Capital for $633 million in May 2021.