Roger Ebert helped journalists with drinking problems

“For obvious reasons I’d like to keep this anonymous,” writes a Romenesko reader, “but I think it’s one salutary aspect of Roger Ebert’s character that has never been divulged; at least not as far as I know”:

Back in the nineties I had a high-profile co-worker with a drinking problem that was about to cost him his job. A few of us planned an intervention as a last-ditch effort to save him,aa but he was tipped off before we met and then confided that he would be joining an AA group with Roger Ebert as his sponsor. If not for Roger, I doubt whether he would have ever gone to AA, but the meetings would prove instrumental in his return to sobriety and ability to keep his job.

Over the succeeding years I learned of other prominent journalists similarly saved by Roger. Although he was candid about his own alcoholism, I have never seen Ebert mention his role in helping others with the disease. It may have been among his greatest contributions to Chicago’s media.

* August 2009: My name is Roger, and I’m an alcoholic (