In a move which leaves neither big-time Chicago newspaper without a television critic, The Chicago Sun-Times fired Paige Wiser after a little over two years on the job after submitting several inaccuracies in a Glee Live! concert review, an offshoot of the popular Fox series.
Wiser had been with the paper for the last seventeen years, mostly as an entertainment reporter and gossip columnist. She took over the television beat on April 17, 2009 from Doug Elfman, who was let go due to budget cuts.
In the review published on June 5, Wiser’s review of the Glee Live performance “included the mention of a song that was not performed and a description of another song that the critic did not witness”, according to a statement Editor-In-Chief Don Hayner posted on the Sun-Times website this afternoon.
The Sun-Times apologized to its readers for the errors.
Wiser went to the Glee concert on Friday in northwest suburban Rosemont with her two kids in tow with approval of her bosses, according to an interview she gave to Phil Rosenthal at the Chicago Tribune’s Tower Ticker blog. However, Wiser left the concert early due to her children falling ill during the show (one fell off a chair, another vomited.) Wiser used information in reviews of other Glee shows to pad the article – but one of those songs was not performed during the Chicago performance.
In the interview, Wiser admitted wrongdoing and was apologetic. She also mentioned the stress she under due to the recent cutbacks at the paper.
While the Glee review was yanked from the Sun-Times’ website, most of her columns and blog still remain on the site as of this writing (to point out the kind of conditions she had to work under, articles on her blog regarding Dancing With The Stars were penned by Miriam Di Nunzio.)
With Wiser’s departure, both the Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune are simultaneously left without full-time TV critics for the first time in recent memory. Last year, Tribune TV critic Maureen Ryan left the paper to join AOL. Many newspapers are eliminating the TV critic position as the industry grapples with declining circulation and advertising revenue during one of the worst recessions in the nation’s history.
A few months ago, the Sun-Times let advertising and media columnist Lewis Lazare go; this week, he landed a similar gig at ReelChicago.com.