Don’t expect a media hotshot to ride into town and take over Sun-Times Media from Timothy Knight. In fact, Knight won’t be replaced at all. The CEO of parent company Wrapports LLC since 2011, Knight left Friday to become president of Northeast Ohio Media Group in Cleveland, his wife’s hometown. Now a trio of executives will run Wrapports’ businesses, according to the company. Jim Kirk, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Sun-Times, Paul Pham, senior vice president for business operations, and Sun-Times Network CEO Tim Landon will all report directly to board chair Michael Ferro.
Knight told his Wrapports bosses weeks ago that he was leaving, but no one else in the company knew until Robert Feder made the news public Monday on his blog.
Wrapports isn’t what it used to be, when it owned the string of suburban daily and weekly papers that were sold last November to Tribune Publishing. Now Sun-Times Media consists of the daily Sun-Times and the weekly Reader, and the hopes of Wrapports rest primarily with the app-oriented Sun-Times Network of hyperlocal news sites, which have yet to justify their existence and which Feder called “clumsy and useless.”
So what were Knight’s successes? I’ll name two: He restored national and international content to the Sun-Times by making the deal to buy stories from USA Today at a price the Sun-Times could afford. The Sun-Times is the first non-Gannett paper to share USA Today content, and like it or not—some days it seems the Sun-Times staff provides the bun and USA Today the wiener—the Sun-Times is a far more complete newspaper than it would be without it.
The other success is this: the Sun-Times still exists. (And so does the Reader.) That’s not as low a bar as it sounds, given that the Sun-Times is Chicago’s second newspaper and these last few years have been the worst time for print journalism in its history. To Knight’s credit, each day when I get up and check my front porch, I find two morning Chicago papers there.