The Sun-Times announced Monday afternoon that Wrapports LLC, which owns it, is in the process of selling its “assets” to Tronc (formerly Tribune Publishing), which owns the Tribune and other papers. Other interested parties have 15 days to make their own offers, but no one else has spoken up yet.
What does this news mean for the Reader? We’re one of those “assets,” after all.
The Sun-Times is “seeking new ownership that will commit to preserving the Sun-Times as an independent news source,” says the paper. No similar commitment to preserve the Reader was mentioned, and Reader staffers were unable to get intramural assurances their paper would go on.
So death after 46 years in business—just as the Reader‘s newly unionized staff is trying to negotiate its first contract with Wrapports and voted to authorize a strike—is one prospect. The other—less dire only by comparison—is that the Reader would continue as a property of Tronc, meaning the alt weekly would once again be controlled by Michael Ferro. Ferro ran Wrapports before putting his shares into a blind trust 15 months ago in order to buy a controlling interest in Tribune Publishing, which last May he renamed “tronc” because he believed the new name better suited “a content curation and monetization company focused on creating and distributing premium, verified content across all channels.”
Back at the Reader, the general reaction to that proclamation—beyond uncertainty as to what Ferro was talking about—was relief that those monumental ambitions would pursued somewhere else.
Jim Kirk, publisher and editor in chief of the Sun-Times and the Reader, said in a statement Monday that an “independent Sun-Times” operating as a “separate news unit” would continue under Tronc, “to produce the award winning journalism readers are accustomed to seeing online and print daily.” On Friday night the Reader won four Lisagor Awards from the Chicago Headline Club, but Kirk made no mention of the Reader‘s award-winning journalism, or, for that matter, of the Reader at all.