Guess it’s his kind of town: Berlin heading for Chicago

Did you ever have to make up your mind? Jonathon Berlin in a swirl at SNDOrlando. Did we spot Berlin and The Trib’s Joe Knowles talking at the bar? Hmmm … (Photo by William Couch)

The Blog brings bittersweet news: Jonathon Berlin will exit the San Jose Mercury News for the friendly confines of the Chicago Tribune.

Why bittersweet? It’s bitter for the Bay Area bunch who work beside the curly-haired design genius every day in Silicon Valley, but it’s sweet news for fans of good visual journalism in the Windy City. As fans of good things in and for Chicago, we’ll raise an Old Style to that.

A new Merc magnet? Mercury News veterans Bryan Monroe, Jonathon Berlin and Steve Cavendish share a drink at SNDHouston. Now they all work in Chicago: Monroe at Ebony + Jet and the other two dudes at the Trib. Was that really Shiner Bock or did somebody slip those guys Old Styles? (Photo by Mark Friesen)

Berlin will join the Trib as its design director, meaning he will oversee, well, the design of the World’s Greatest Newspaper. We’re pretty sure here at The Blog that Joe Knowles (AME for design and graphics) could not have picked a better person to lead that effort. The new gig starts in late October.

Never too early to start training: Young Eli Berlin, right in a file photo, gets some instruction from his father on the best way to guzzle a beer while JB attends a “business meeting” at SNDOrlando. (Submitted image)

Chicago, not incidentally, is the hometown of JB’s wife, the immensely talented Mari Berlin, a former journalist turned attorney. We’re thinking something like built-in childcare for young Eli Berlin from Mari’s mom, sisters and other assorted relatives may have played a key role in the relocation decision. It will take a months-long Tribune investigation to conclude that for sure, though.

Berlin, of course, also is the editor of Design magazine. We are happy to report that won’t end. We’re pretty darn sure that JB will continue to do his usually provocative editing of the Society’s quarterly journal wherever he’s hanging his workaday hat.

His friends at the Merc would be remiss if we did not exit on a slightly sloppy sweet note …

We’re going to miss you like mad, JB, from your wildly exuberant influence over our design and graphics (which garnered a Merc high of 55 awards this year at the annual Best of Newspaper Design) to your quasi-challenged personal couture to your three-beers-in craziness to every little thing that goes into making Jonathon Berlin a singular talent.

We leave with one plea to JB: Knock ’em out in Chicago!


17 thoughts on “Guess it’s his kind of town: Berlin heading for Chicago”

  1. Sadly, my efforts to bring JB back to The Times of NWI were trumped by the mighty Trib. But I couldn’t be happier that a great buddy is back in Chicagoland. Congrats, JB! And holy hell … congrats Trib. What a coup!

  2. Welcome to Tribune, but sorry to see you leaving the Merc, JB. But then again, it does pave the way for Mansfield to rehire you for what, the eleventh time in your career?

  3. How come it looks like I have a beer in all of those pictures? Disturbing …

    Thanks to everyone for the comments.

    Mari and I are very sad to leave a place we love in the Merc and Silicon Valley, but Chicago has been a part of our lives for a long time and we are more than excited to give it a go there.

    I can’t imagine a group of people I’d be sadder to leave than here at the Merc. And I can’t imagine a group I’d be more excited to join than the team at the Tribune.


  4. We are obviously thrilled to have Jonathon on board. He is a tremendous talent and a proven leader. There is much work to do here and we can’t wait to get him in the building.

  5. An incredible hire. Just incredible. I can’t wait to see what JB can bring to the table working with the likes of Knowles and Cavendish.

  6. My goodness. I’m speechless.

    (Inner turmoil — happy for my friends at the Trib, distraught for my friends at the Merc)

    Don’t know what to do but say congratulations.

    You, of course, deserve every good thing that comes your way.

    Can’t wait to see you!

  7. Absolutely huge.

    But, JB, speaking from the same San Jose-to-Chicago pipeline, a warning: The first winter lasts forever.

    An eloquent tribute, Matt!

  8. Wow. Fantastic move by the Trib, and I know you will be missed in San Jose. And, I have to echo everyone else, that was a helluva note, Matt. That showed a lot of class.

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