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Report: Sacks spearheading effort to combine WBEZ and Sun-Times

Wednesday, Sep 29, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Robert Feder early this morning

The Chicago Sun-Times and public radio station WBEZ 91.5-FM would combine ownership under an agreement that could be announced this week, sources said. The board of Chicago Public Media, nonprofit parent company of WBEZ, is expected to vote on the plan in a closed meeting Wednesday night. Board approval is not assured, sources said, and the deal could still fall through. Officials of Chicago Public Media would not respond to requests for comment.

Spearheading the proposal is Michael Sacks, the Chicago businessman who’s been principal investor in the Sun-Times since 2019. While continuing to cover the newspaper’s financial losses, Sacks is said to have been looking for a compatible partner to take over the company. Details of the arrangement — including whether the two newsrooms would continue to operate independently — could not be confirmed.

* Updated at 10:30 this morning

In separate emails to their staffs, the chief executive officers of the Sun-Times and Chicago Public Media acknowledged their negotiations.

“I wanted to make sure you were aware of and acknowledge Robert Feder’s column this morning that mentions Chicago Public Media,” wrote Matt Moog, interim CEO of Chicago Public Media.

“I can confirm that we are currently exploring partnerships and opportunities with the Chicago Sun-Times to strengthen local journalism in the city and our region,” he wrote. “These conversations are an important part of our commitment to serving Chicago and ensuring local news continues to thrive.”

Sun-Times CEO Nykia Wright told her staff the newspaper is “in talks with Chicago Public Media to determine if there is an opportunity to become a combined entity. It is very important to note that we are not close to any deal. Opportunities like this require a lot of due diligence.

“Please be assured that the current ownership group is committed to protecting your employment and will continue to invest in the paper with or without any potential future partnership,” Wright wrote.

       

12 Comments
  1. - The Captain - Wednesday, Sep 29, 21 @ 11:07 am:

    McKinney to the Sun-Times. All kidding aside WBEZ has done a lot of the most noticeable deep reporting of late. There are a lot of good reporters in town but they have really stood out as impressive. At the same time it’s hard not to notice that the Sun-Times just doesn’t cover as much as they used to, you can tell that they are understaffed and have fewer resources.


  2. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Sep 29, 21 @ 11:16 am:

    Not-for-profit has worked well for radio news; it might be a good model for newspapers. The keys to a deal like this would be very low debt and some kind of protection to ensure the failure of one side does not doom the other.


  3. - Humboldt - Wednesday, Sep 29, 21 @ 11:22 am:

    both the Seattle Times and Philadephia Inquirer have gone non-profit in the last several years as well. This would certainly be a more welcome development than the private vampire route happening elsewhere.


  4. - Bruce( no not him) - Wednesday, Sep 29, 21 @ 11:24 am:

    Aren’t most traditional newspapers non-profit now? (Non-intentionally) S/


  5. - MisterJayEm - Wednesday, Sep 29, 21 @ 12:34 pm:

    🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

    – MrJM


  6. - Louis G Atsaves - Wednesday, Sep 29, 21 @ 1:19 pm:

    WBEZ has the best reporting of any media outlet in Chicago these days. The Tribune is a shadow of itself reprinting AP stories, the Sun-Times was reprinting USA Today articles, had a recent opportunity to surpass the Trib and has either failed or doesn’t have the resources.

    Local reporting for both papers continues to slowly disappear and reporting in the collar counties and suburbs has been close to totally abandoned by both.

    WBEZ would be wise to offer to sell their articles to them but otherwise keep their distance.


  7. - Inverted Pyramid - Wednesday, Sep 29, 21 @ 1:25 pm:

    A potential model for the future of local journalism. As has been stated, WBEZ has been at the forefront of not just Chicago area, but Illinois news for several years. Could we see it in other areas of the state? WGLT/WCBU-Pantagraph-Journal Star? WUIS-SJR-Herald & Review? One can dream.


  8. - Annonin' - Wednesday, Sep 29, 21 @ 2:15 pm:

    This is interesting….speaking of media resources can anyone explain why the Tribbies could afford to spend two(2) reporters to NYC for lengthy coverage of the mope R kelly?


  9. - Bond Guy - Wednesday, Sep 29, 21 @ 3:23 pm:

    I wonder what the semi-annual Sun-Times pledge drives will be like…


  10. - Amalia - Wednesday, Sep 29, 21 @ 3:30 pm:

    Oh great, now I will have to support the Tribune and I hate that. WBEZ’s crime reporting has been straight up ridiculous. (see CWB for the real story on shootings committed by people on montitors, on release prior to trial. they have a running number.) To combine that with a newspaper means more and more to the so called woke left. We will need some balance.


  11. - Shytown - Wednesday, Sep 29, 21 @ 3:39 pm:

    Nothing but good news for Chicago journalism


  12. - Leslie K - Wednesday, Sep 29, 21 @ 5:34 pm:

    Amalia @ 3:30–The arrangement won’t drive me to the Trib, but I agree with you about the crime reporting at WBEZ. So slanted and so often with misrepresented “facts” that it should be labeled opinion. Its why I stopped being a Leadership Circle member (or any other kind of member) of WBEZ.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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