BY PATRICK J. FOOTE
CHICAGO – A group of investors led by former Alderman Edwin Eisendrath, including the Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL) and other unions, purchased this city’s second largest newspaper, the Chicago Sun-Times. The purchase comes after Tronc, owner of the Chicago Tribune, made a bid on the Sun-Times (as well as the alt-weekly Chicago Reader) that opponents of the deal said would have resulted in a print news monopoly.
The group also purchased Answers Media, “a full-service digital communications company.”
Eisendrath will serve as CEO of the Chicago Sun-Times and Jorge Ramirez, CFL president, will serve as its chairman. The details of the purchase have not been revealed.
The Chicago News Guild, which represents the editorial staffs of both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader, circulated a petition that called for the U.S. Department of Justice to allow for more time for bidders other than Tronc to come forward. The Justice Department pushed back the window for potential bidders to come forward twice.
“The Guild and its members welcome this news and look forward to helping the new owners find innovative ways to sustain serious journalism,” reads a statement issued later that day. “The Guild has not been involved in the sales negotiations, but some of us have known Eisendrath for years and are impressed with his commitment to journalistic competition. He and his partners bring a sense of mission to what is both a civic and a business endeavor.” The Guild expressed hopes to continue negotiations for the Chicago Reader editorial staff soon.
The investor group held a press conference at what will be the new headquarters of the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Reader, the offices of Answers Media at 30 N. Racine Ave, in Chicago’s West Loop.
“These, the investors, are the men and women who, just like the subscribers to the Chicago Sun-Times, value honest and ethical reporting. Who are we exactly? These men and women are janitors, carpenters, bakers, health care workers, heavy equipment operators, lawyers, food service workers, laborers, civic leaders and journalists among others. It’s a historic coalition of people from across the social spectrum,” said Ramirez.
Why invest in the Sun-Times? Ramirez continued, “Since its inception, the labor movement remains committed to raising people up and building strong communities. We believe this begins by protecting the common good… [the 500,00 members of the CFL] rely on and value honest and ethical reporting… we believe in protecting the institution of journalism itself and amplifying a diversity of voices and perspectives.”
Tom Balanoff, president of SEIU Local 1 which also invested in the buyout, said in a press release that his organization is pleased “that the Chicago Sun Times will remain an independent, free-standing institution where progressive voices of working people who are fighting for real economic justice, while standing at the forefront of the fight for immigrant, racial, and environmental justice, will continue to be heard.”
Greg Kelley, president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Kansas, identified corporate capital as limiting the voices expressed in public discourse “to those that benefit big business.
“We are proud that we are able to keep Chicago as a two-paper town where the voices of working families will have an outlet through an independent paper like the Chicago Sun-Times,” he concluded.
This article was originally published on People’s World.