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There's Officially A Bid To Keep The Sun-Times From Tronc: Report

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jun 19, 2017 10:50PM

Getty Images / Photo: Scott Olson

The quest to keep Chicago a two-paper town* took a major step in the right direction on Monday, when a group spearheaded by a former alderman officially put forth an offer to buy the Sun-Times, along with the Chicago Reader, according to a report from Robert Feder. Tronc, the publisher of the Tribune, announced back in May its intent to purchase both.

Backed by the large union coalition the Chicago Federation of Labor and other unnamed investors, a group led by former 43rd Ward alderman Edwin Eisendrath put in a robust $15 million offer for the papers, according to Robert Feder.

Tronc made public in May its letter of intent to purchase the Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader. With time running out for other potential purchasers to step in, the Department of Justice pushed back the deadline to allow other possible bidders to come up with offers. Hedge-fund investor Thane Ritchie and billionaire Neil Bluhm were reportedly also mulling separate bids; but now it looks like Eisendrath has formally put up the challenge.

News of Tronc's wallop-of-a-consolidation bid had many Chicagoans shuddering at the ramifications, with the publishing Goliath's grip on the local media landscape already very firm. Not to mention CEO Michael Ferro's unsettling preference for hyper-optimization—and its requisite nothing-burger jargon. There's also the fact that a union-backed bid would seemingly help preserve the historic liberal-leaning/conservative-leaning balance of the daily-paper market. (Eisendrath served office as a Democrat, and unsuccessfully challenged Rod Blagojevich for governor in the party's primary in 2006. He told Feder he wants the paper to be for "the 99 percent.") Taken all together, the bid looks like a very encouraging lifeline.

Read Eisendrath's interview with Feder here and stay tuned for developments.

*Yes, assurances were made that the Sun-Times newsroom would retain independence when Tronc announced its letter of intent, but "one-paper-owner" doesn't really ring, does it?