Chicago Public Media to Acquire Chicago Sun-Times

The two orgs say they will maintain their own newsrooms and independence

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 02: The offices of the Chicago Sun-Times sit along the Chicago River on December 2, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Guild member are expected to vote today on an agreement reached between Wrapports, publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times and other Chicago-area publications, and the Chicago Newspaper Guild for a new three-year contract. Reports suggest the new contract could lead to the company rehiring four of the 28 people that were laid-off last spring when the company eliminated the photography staffs at the Sun-Times and their other newspapers opting to rely on freelance photographers, reporters, and other sources for the images used in the publications. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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Chicago-based WBEZ’s board voted unanimously on Tuesday to acquire the Chicago Sun-Times, with the deal expected to close at the end of January.

The merger creates a powerful media combination joining the city’s two top outlets for morning news, tabloid and investigative content. The organizations did not provide financial details of the transaction.

“This is an important step to grow and strengthen local journalism in Chicago,” Matt Moog, CEO of Chicago Public Media, said in a statement. “A vibrant local news ecosystem is fundamental to a healthy democracy, informed citizens, and engaged communities. Together WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times aim to tell the stories that matter, serve more Chicagoans with our unbiased, fact-based journalism, and connect Chicagoans more deeply to each other and to their communities,” Moog said.

Both organizations will maintain their own newsrooms and editorial independence, with the Sun-Times joining WBEZ as a non-profit subsidiary of Chicago Public Media. Nykia Wright will stay on as CEO of the Sun-Times, reporting to Moog. A seat on the Sun-Times’ nonprofit board will go to Moog. Both newsrooms also plan to hire newly created executive editor positions.

The two newsrooms are expected to share content across radio and online. Combined, WBEZ and the Sun-Times are likely to reach an estimated news audience of 2 million per week, giving it one of the widest platforms across Chicago.

The individual newsrooms are also represented by different labor unions — the Chicago News Guild and SAG-AFTRA — and both are negotiating contracts this year.

Moog said in a statement there are no plans for playoffs.

“What we said many times is we don’t have any plans for any kind of layoffs. None of us can see all the way into the future and know exactly what’s going to happen,” Moog stated. “But what we’ve tried to communicate very clearly is this is about growth and investment. This is not about consolidation or contraction.”