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Tribune Publishing Reportedly Buying Sun-Times Suburban Papers

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 21, 2014 8:40PM

Robert Feder dropped a bombshell of a story this morning that has major ramifications on Chicago’s newspaper landscape. Feder, citing sources, reports Tribune Publishing Co. is in the process of buying all of the Sun-Times’ suburban daily and weekly newspapers. Spokespeople for Tribune Publishing and Sun-Times parent company Wrapports LLC would respond to Feder’s requests for comment, but Feder’s sources say the two sides are aggressively working to seal a deal.

The sale would give Tribune Publishing, one of two companies spun off from the former Tribune Co. earlier this year, ownership of Aurora Beacon-News, the Elgin Courier-News, the Lake County News-Sun, the Naperville Sun, the Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune, the SouthtownStar and 32 Pioneer Press weekly newspapers. Wrapports would be left with the Sun-Times and the Reader. (The Tribune already prints the Sun-Times at its River North plant.)

Although Wrapports would not officially comment to Feder about the sale rumors, CEO Timothy P. Knight sent an email to employees stating the company “is evaluating a variety of investments to continue to execute our digital strategy and grow the Chicago Sun-Times, one of the country’s great newspapers.” The rumors of a deal is in line with Tribune Publishing CEO Jack Griffin’s stated intention to buy smaller newspapers in or near existing markets where his company now has a presence. Tribune Publishing also owns the Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant, the Los Angeles Times, Orlando Sentinel, and Virginia Gazette.

Another aspect of the deal to keep an eye on is its effect on specialized and hyperlocal content. Last year, Wrapports launched Aggrego, a hyperlocal service intended to provide hyperlocal content that, Knight said at the time, could back in to the Sun-Times Media Group’s newspapers. Tribune Publishing is bullish on a new specialized content division providing news, articles and columns from some of the largest magazines and name columnists in the country.