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article imageNew-times for Sun-Times: Chicago's No.2 newspaper is sold

By Tim Sandle     Dec 22, 2011 in Business
Chicago - Chicago's second best-selling newspaper Sun-Times has been sold to a local investor group in a deal valued at more than $20 million.
The Sun-Times has been sold to a local group of investors, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. The investors have come together to form a new company called Wrapports LLC. The new company is headed up by Michael Ferro (a Chicago technology entrepreneur) and the media executive Timothy Knight. News & Tech provide more on the takeover by confirming that Knight, former Newsday Publisher, has been named CEO of the firm.
The Sun-Times is Chicago's oldest newspaper (it was founded in 1844, originally as the Chicago Evening Journal). It has a daily circulation of over 300,000. Although the paper has a long and distinguished history, recent times have been turbulent and the group has been sold five times in past 28-years.
The deal includes Chicago-area daily newspapers, weekly newspapers and more than 40 websites. In addition, the group owns some newspapers in Indiana. The websites are an important feature of the investment. Many traditional print newspapers have put considerable investment into digital media and this will be the same with the Sun-Times portfolio.
USA Today quotes Timothy Knight as saying: "we look forward to introducing cutting-edge technologies, new content portals and other tools that will expand and drive richer and more satisfying content to readers, while providing more targeted and measurable promotion options for our advertising partners."
The deal, said to be around $20 million, injects some important funding into the troubled media group which not only allows the development of digital content but also provides an element of financial stability. In March 2009, as NBC Chicago recounts, Sun-Times Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and was only saved from liquidation from a last minute investment by the late Jim Tyree (Mesirow Financial).
Since the 2009 bankruptcy issue the Sun-Times has grown in value and the new deal indicates how economic value fluctuates. In November the group was said to be worth $14 million. A month later a deal is struck for $6 million more. Nonetheless, the New York Times considers this to be a relatively low price for a large media group.
Exactly how the new owners will restructure the group is uncertain, although the Sun-Times will remain the flagship publication. However, less-earning papers will possibly go under as the new company places its energies into on-line digital media. Roy Greenslade, writing in The Guardian, this month, reviewed a report entitled "Is America at a digital turning point?". The conclusion of the report was that digital media versions of newspapers will outstrip print versions in less than five years. The strategy of the Sun-Times' new owners is in keeping with this potential direction.
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