Star Tribune gossip columnist C.J. leaving newspaper after more than 30 years

Over her years writing about local celebrities, C.J. built up a large following.
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After almost 30 years of dishing about Twin Cities personalities, "C.J." is leaving the Star Tribune.

The Star Tribune reported on Tuesday that its gossip columnist, full name Cheryl Johnson, is retiring.

But in a tweet after the story went live, C.J. tweeted that she was "departuring, not retiring," though there is no word yet on what her next move will be.

She first joined the Strib in 1986, working as a news reporter before her first gossip column alongside WCCO's Eric Eskola appeared in 1989.

C.J. went it alone in 1990 after Eskola took a step back, and built a large following for her acerbic takes on local personalities.

On Twitter, C.J. said that her column attracted "2 million hits a year to the [Star Tribune] website," noting: "Most years I had more web hits than all metro columnists combined. Of course, I never had more hits than Sid Hartman. He was the king."

Minnesota Monthly spoke with former Star Tribune editor Tim McGuire in 2007, who said C.J.'s column was intended to bring "more fun into the paper," even if C.J.'s edgy prose rubbed some readers up the wrong way."

She found herself on occasions the subject of controversy, such as three years ago when the Star Tribune apologized and deleted a column about KARE 11 broadcaster Jana Shortal, in which C.J. questioned her choice of jeans as she reported on the discovery of Jacob Wetterling's remains.

Her final column for the Star Tribune will appear on Sept. 10.

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