Chicago’s inane tabloid, The Sun-Times, may be joining a nonprofit group.
Chicago’s domineering tabloid has entered into a merger agreement with the non-profit organization behind the public radio show “This American Life”.
The Chicago Sun-Times, which was once home to film critic Roger Ebert and columnist Mike Royco, and Chicago Public Media, the owner of the city’s National Public Radio affiliate, WBEZ, announced Wednesday that they have signed a non-binding letter of intent. have signed. will allow the organization to acquire the paper. If the deal goes through, the publication that bills itself as Chicago’s oldest continuously published newspaper will become part of the non-profit group.
“This will allow us to invest in our people, improve the news products we build, and strengthen our digital future,” Sun Times chief executive Nichia Wright said in a statement.
The potential deal is in stark contrast to The Sun-Times’ longtime rival, The Chicago Tribune, whose parent company, Tribune Publishing, was sold this year to New York hedge fund Alden Global Capital.
The Sun-Times came into existence in 1948 with the merger of The Chicago Sun and The Chicago Daily Times. The tabloid was owned by the extended family of Chicago department store magnate Marshall Field before being sold to Rupert Murdoch in 1983 for $90 million. Three years later, Mr. Murdoch flipped it to a group of investors for $145 million.
After a series of further ownership changes, and an attempt by Tribune Publishing to buy the paper, a group of local unions and businessmen, including Michael Sachs, an investor, and Rocky Wirtz, owner of the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team, took ownership of it. . Sun-Times in 2019.
WBEZ, the non-commercial radio station, is best known for “This American Life”, the narrative audio show hosted by Ira Glass, which has had a great influence on podcasting. (Last year, The New York Times announced a partnership with “This American Life,” which is no longer owned by WBEZ.)
Matt Moog, interim chief executive of Chicago Public Media, said the merger “has the potential to be both a light and a hope for Chicago news.”
Alden Global Capital’s purchase of Tribune Publishing, which owns The Baltimore Sun, The Daily News and The Tribune, in addition to several other metropolitan dailies, received shareholder approval in May. The sale was opposed by several journalists, who cited the hedge fund’s propensity to cut costs on papers already owned by MediaNews Group.
The Sun-Times’ potential move to local nonprofit ownership will reflect the corporate structure of The Philadelphia Inquirer, which was founded in 2016 by its owner, HF Lenfest, a cable magnate, along with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, a non-profit organization he founded. had donated to.
Jim Friedlich, chief executive of the Lenfest Institute, said in an email that he had advised Chicago Public Media on a possible acquisition of The Sun-Times.
“The news capacity of the city has been eroded over the years by out-of-town hedge fund owners, the secular decline of print and the failure to invest in the digital transformation of local news products,” said Mr. Friedlich. “Today’s announcement is wonderful news and a model for other public media and local newspapers to emulate.”
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