Ebert showed willingness to adapt to new media
CHICAGO (AP) — Roger Ebert started out as an old-school newspaper man, the kind that has all but vanished: a fierce competitor who spent the day trying to scoop the competition and the night bellied up to the bar swapping stories.
Then newspapers fell on hard times, either laying off huge chunks of their staffs or disappearing altogether.
But Ebert didn't merely survive. He flourished, largely by embracing television and later the Internet and social networks. As the American news media and even the landscape of his beloved Chicago changed, Ebert evolved, too, gliding seamlessly from one medium to the next and helping to blaze a path forward for the beleaguered industry he loved.
Ebert, who died Thursday at age 70, rose to fame at the Chicago Sun-Times, which struggled to survive after two of the city's four dailies closed. The nation's most influential movie critic was always willing to experiment and adapt. Every step into new technology widened his audience.
"Roger was one of the great conversationalists, whether it was in bars or on the street corner, and when he could not speak, he found a way to speak," said Rick Kogan, a longtime Chicago Tribune writer who knew Ebert for decades. "In many ways, he was generations ahead of his time."
Ebert, who quit drinking in the late 1970s, arrived in Chicago when gritty steel mills and stockyards dominated an industrial city. Slowly, they were replaced by gleaming skyscrapers.