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Eisendrath Coalition Beats Out Tronc To Buy The Sun-Times & Reader

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jul 14, 2017 2:59PM

Getty Images / Photo: Scott Olson

The Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader have a new owner—and it's not Tronc.

The union-backed group led by former alderman Edwin Eisendrath purchased the publications on Wednesday, an acquisition that quells the roiling fears of potential consolidation and fewer independent media voices that emerged when Tronc—who also owns the Tribune—announced its intent to purchase the papers, in May.

Eisendrath's ownership group includes a the Chicago Federation of Labor and a small handful of individual investors.

Details of the deal haven't been made available, but according to reports, Eisendrath's group bought the Sun-Times from Wrapports Inc. for just $1—but they'd also be on the hook for shutdown costs, if it ever came to that, which Poynter puts in the ballpark of $8 million. The group did come up with $11.2 million escrow that would go toward operational costs.

Tronc—a massive publishing company that owns dozens of publishing properties (but has made some high-profile missed deals lately)—vowed to keep the Sun-Times and Tribune newsrooms independent when it announced its intent to buy (it didn't say much at all about the Reader). But the Department of Justice quickly jumped in and encouraged other potential suitors to come forward, "because the merger of the two daily newspapers in Chicago would raise significant antitrust concerns," as the DOJ put it in a Wednesday statement.

The bid by optimization-happy Tronc had local media watchers holding their collective breath; and according to the Sun-Times, the group that represents union employees at the the Sun-Times and the Reader was very much against Tronc's takeover.

"We wanted to make sure that Chicago had a genuine voice with honest and good reporting that connects with working men and women," Eisendrath tweeted on Wednesday.