The Rundown: WBEZ And Sun-Times Seek Merger

Chicago Sun-Times building
Chicago Public Media is pursuing a deal to partner with the Chicago Sun-Times. G-Jun Yam / Associated Press
Chicago Sun-Times building
Chicago Public Media is pursuing a deal to partner with the Chicago Sun-Times. G-Jun Yam / Associated Press

The Rundown: WBEZ And Sun-Times Seek Merger

Hey there! It’s Thursday, and so long, September! I’m already watching horror movies to get pumped for Halloween. Here’s what you need to know today.

(By the way, if you’d like this emailed to your inbox, you can sign up here.)

1. Board overseeing WBEZ votes to move forward on merger with the Chicago Sun-Times

In a move that could significantly change the local media landscape and create one of the largest nonprofit newsrooms in the nation, the board for WBEZ’s parent company last night voted to pursue an acquisition of the Chicago Sun-Times, reports WBEZ’s Tony Arnold.

The two brands would “create one of the largest local nonprofit news organizations in the nation and be a national model for the future of local journalism,” officials from both media companies said in a statement. But the two brands also “would continue to serve their respective audiences.”

Content from both newsrooms would be shared across their platforms, including broadcast, print, podcasts and public events, the joint statement indicated. [WBEZ]

2. About half of Americans support Biden’s vaccine and testing mandates, poll finds

About 51% of Americans say they approve of President Joe Biden’s sweeping mandate that millions of workers should be vaccinated or face regular COVID-19 testing, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

About 34% disapprove and 14% hold neither opinion. The poll also found Democrats overwhelmingly support the mandate while a majority of Republicans disapprove. [AP]

In another sign that mandates may boost vaccination rates, tens of thousands of health care workers recently got shots to meet California’s deadline for inoculations. [New York Times]

3. An influential alderman calls for the removal of Chicago’s parks chief over the handling of lifeguard abuse allegations

The chairman of the City Council’s powerful Finance Committee became the first alderman to call for the removal of Chicago Park District chief Michael Kelly over his handling of widespread allegations of lifeguard abuse at public beaches and pools, reports WBEZ’s Dan Mihalopoulos.

The chairman, Ald. Scott Waguespack of the 32nd Ward, also said a top parks official made dismissive remarks about the allegations of sexual violence during a private meeting with him and another alderman.

“The worst thing I heard about this whole thing was that someone — up at the top there — mentioned that it was nothing but disenchanted staff and sour grapes,” Waguespack said in an interview this week on the podcast of Chicago Reader political columnist Ben Joravsky. “I almost bit my lip off. I’ve never been so disgusted hearing something like that, when young girls are being attacked, raped, assaulted, harassed.”

When reached by WBEZ, Waguespack said the official was Avis LaVelle, the park district’s board president, and he called for her resignation. [WBEZ]

4. Head of Chicago’s public schools vows to improve COVID-19 testing

During his first press conference as CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Pedro Martinez said the district will ramp up COVID-19 testing and provide more information to the public about infections in classrooms.

The news comes as the Chicago Teachers Union and some parents have blasted CPS for delays in widespread testing and inconsistencies with the data publicly posted by the district. For example, parents say they’ve been notified of infections at schools that do not show up on CPS’ tracker.

Earlier this month, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she was “disappointed” with the school district’s failure to implement a robust, districtwide testing system at the beginning of the new academic year. [Chalkbeat Chicago]

5. A Danish museum gave an artist $84,000, so he kept the money and called it art

The artist, Jens Haaning, was paid by the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art to create artwork for an exhibition about labor. So Haaning sent the museum two empty canvases with the title “Take the Money and Run.”

“The work is that I have taken their money,” Haaning stated.

The CEO of the museum said he suspected something might be up when he learned the title for the artwork.

“I actually laughed as I saw it,” he said in an email to NPR. The museum so far has not taken legal action against Haaning. [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • President Biden’s approval rating has recovered since the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to a new poll. [NPR]
  • Congress averted a government shutdown, but Biden’s ambitious domestic agenda hangs in the balance. [WaPo]
  • Britney Spears’ dad has been suspended from her controversial conservatorship. [NPR]
  • For Banned Books Week, here’s a look at the most challenged books of 2020. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

Fat Bear Week is finally here, and daddy needs a new pair of shoes.

Described as a “celebration of success and survival,” Fat Bear Week is an annual competition that illustrates how bears get fat as they prepare for winter hibernation.

Fans can vote on their favorite bears, who get winnowed down to a final matchup on Oct. 5.

I’ve got my money on Popeye. Get that bear some spinach. [NPR]

Tell me something good …

What’s something funny that your pet has done?

Jane Gralen writes:

“My eighth grade daughter was working on a science project involving mold. She had three pieces of bread on her broad windowsill observing the growth of mold. Our gentle black lab found the bread and ate it. This is one true story of: ‘My dog ate my homework.’ ”

Chad Crabtree:

“My dachshund Gunter managed to crawl into my IU sweatshirt sleeve and couldn’t manage to back out. Just his snout poking out made him look like a seal. The other dachshund Zoey slipped through a hole in a cover for a basement window well and could not get back out. My third dachshund, Patches, who is deaf remains the ‘good child.’ Good or bad they are my babies!”

Feel free to email me at therundown@wbez.org or tweet me at @whuntah.

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