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To the great surprise of no one, Daily News editor-in-chief Michael Cooke, who arrived at the tab less than a year ago from the Chicago Sun-Times, is returning whence he came.

Crain's has the scoop:

The British tabloid veteran will return to Chicago, where he was previously editor in chief of the Chicago Sun-Times. He will become vice president of editorial operations for the Chicago group of papers at Sun-Times parent company, Hollinger Inc.

Mr. Cooke s 10-month tenure at the Daily News was marked by defections among senior staff and editorial gaffes, including running a recycled story he originally wrote for the Chicago paper.

Somewhere along Sixth Avenue, we're sure Col Allan is cackling with glee.

UPDATE: Cooke's entirely banal farewell memo — plus the News's equally banal statement — await after the jump.

Daily News Editor Leaving After Less Than a Year [Crain's NY]
Former Sun-Times Editor Returning to Chicago [Crain's Chicago]

To everyone:

I am leaving the New York Daily News. My last day will be January 2.

So I have a month to shake hands and have a drink with as many of you as possible.

Working in this newsroom has been a marvelous experience for me. I have admired your talent, energy and dedication in our daily battle to beat the other guys. I have no doubt the Daily News will win the war.

Below is the statement the company is releasing this afternoon.

Thank you, everyone.

— Michael

Michael Cooke, Editor-in-Chief of the New York Daily News, today announced he would be leaving the newspaper in January.

Cooke has been appointed Vice-President of Editorial for the Sun-Times News Group. The company publishes the Chicago Sun-Times, seven Illinois daily newspapers, and more than 60 suburban weeklies.

"Editing the New York Daily News has been a privilege," he said, "and I have made many friends at the newspaper and in the city.

"This is a brilliant newsroom to work in - I have learned much from these journalists and it's been great to be on the winning team in the media capital of the world. The 200,000-plus extra readers the Daily News gained this year is a testament to them.

"I want to thank Mort Zuckerman for his support and kindnesses during my time here."

Mortimer B. Zuckerman, Chairman and Publisher of the New York Daily News, and Martin Dunn, Editorial Director and Deputy Publisher said:

"Michael has brought a special energy and good journalism to the Daily News. He has been a pleasure to work with and he leaves with the best wishes of all the senior management team at the Daily News. We'll miss him."