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Tribune Publisher Tronc Could Face Competition Buying The Sun-Times

By Rachel Cromidas in News on May 30, 2017 5:01AM

Getty Images / Photo: Scott Olson

Tronc, the oddly named company that owns and publishes the Chicago Tribune, among other papers, has been poised to acquire the Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader amid major concerns that Chicago could be on its way to becoming a one-newspaper town.

But now it's looking like those who want to see the Tribune and the Sun-Times remain completely separate have some hope—at least two other buyers have expressed interest in buying the Sun-Times, a rep for the Newspaper Guild told Politico Monday night.

David Roeder, who works with the Chicago News Guild—the labor union that represents the staff of the Sun-Times and the Reader—told Politico's Natasha Korecki (a Sun-Times alum) that at least two groups of buyers have expressed interest in buying the newspaper. The news comes as a deadline looms for potential buyers to come forward. Tronc (it's actually tronc, with a lowercase t, but we can't bring ourselves to start a sentence that way) has been poised to buy Wrapports Holdings, LLC, which owns the Sun-Times and the Reader, after working with the federal Department of Justice's antitrust division to ensure that the acquisition would keep Chicago's two biggest newspapers running independently. The DOJ is currently investigating tronc's intention to buy the company, and has given other buyers until June 1 to come forward.

Many have already noted the irony and humor in the potential acquisition, while others fear that it represents another nail in the coffin of Chicago's dwindling news industry. It's also unclear what will happen to the Reader in all of thisThe staff recently authorized a strike, and some are hoping a new buyer can step in to rescue the historic alt-weekly from the jaws of tronc.

There's now some hope that that could happen, at least for the Sun-Times. From Politico:

“There are two who have contacted the guild. And there may be others who we haven't talked with,” Roeder told POLITICO on Monday. “I don't know where they are in the process.” Still, Roeder said he believes a deadline, originally set for this week, was likely to be extended.

Roeder said he could not comment on the identities of the possible competing purchasers.

Roeder also noted that “Most people at the Sun-Times and the Reader don't want to see the sale to tronc." The Guild has taken out ads and launched a petition and social media campaign to urge the Department of Justice to heavily scrutinize the sale and to encourage other buyers to step in.