CHICAGO (AP) — An investor group headed by a former Chicago city council member and labor unions has submitted a bid to buy the Chicago Sun-Times — a move that, if successful, would prevent the paper’s biggest rival from purchasing it.
The bid led by former Alderman Edwin Eisendrath and the Chicago Federation of Labor comes a month after the owner of the Sun-Times, Chicago-based-Wrapports LLC announced it had agreed to enter into discussions with Tronc, which owns the rival Tribune and several other major newspapers, to acquire the paper.
Terms of the offer to buy Wrapports haven’t been disclosed, but Eisendrath said that that the investor group has raised about $15 million.
Sun-Times Publisher and Editor in Chief Jim Kirk declined to discuss the bid from Eisendrath other than to say that the company is evaluating it.
Eisendrath told Chicago media writer Robert Feder that his bid was an effort to make sure that the city has a paper that represents working people.
“Great journalism in a great democracy means that the 99 percent should recognize themselves in what gets written,” he said.
The announcement adds more uncertainty to the fate of the newspaper that became part of journalism lore when it secretly operated a bar to expose crooked city inspectors. The Sun-Times also was home to the famed movie critic Roger Ebert and legendary columnist Mike Royko, before he left for the Tribune.
All that history didn’t add up to much interest in buying the paper. Last month’s announcement that Tronc had agreed to enter discussions to buy the paper came after it was clear there was little interest among other media companies. But that move caught the attention of the U.S. Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, which asked Wrapports to extend the deadline to allow bids from other potential buyers.
For years, many thought the Sun-Times was in danger of going out of business. Like many papers across the country, the Sun-Times has seen its advertising revenues and print circulation decline. But the Sun-Times has its own unique history of financial problems that included a fraud conviction in 2007 of Conrad Black, the British-Canadian media baron who owned the paper, on allegations of siphoning millions of dollars from the company to defraud shareholders.
In 2009, Sun-Times Media Group declared bankruptcy, and a group of investors headed by James Tyree, chairman of Mesirow Financial Holdings, bought the company out of bankruptcy for about $26 million later that year. Then in 2011, Wrapports, which owns The Reader, an alternative weekly newspaper, bought Sun-Times Media.