Saturday, January 19, 2013

And da winnah is, Da Sun-Times?!??

I can remember being a brand new reporter-type person back in the late 1980s and talking with some of the long-time (and now retired, and in some cases, deceased) veteran reporters of the Chicago Sun-Times when they would speculate on their publication’s fate.

Whose news box will prevail?

They seemed to think back then that the Sun-Times would be a product of the 20th Century that would no longer exist once we passed over into the new millennium.

YET NOW WE’RE one-eighth of the way into the 21st Century. All that transition into a new millennium talk seems like a life-time ago. And yet, we still have the Sun-Times with us – albeit in printed editions that now only get as fat as the paper used to be scrawny in the old days.

And I wonder how those old Sun-Times vets would react to not only seeing the newspaper still alive, but to the Crain’s Chicago Business report on Friday that indicated the Sun-Times ownership was talking about purchasing “assets” belonging to the Chicago Tribune.

Of course, Crains’ report was purposely vague as to what was meant by “assets.” That could mean anything from some websites that deal primarily in advertising to some of the newspaper or broadcast properties that Tribune officials are expected to try to sell off later this year as part of their way of becoming a financially-solid company.

Could we really get the day when WGN (either television or radio) is a sister property of the Chicago Sun-Times? Would they take on the monicker of the World’s Greatest Newspaper that those broadcast call letters perpetuate?

OR WOULD WE really get an effort by the Sun-Times to purchase the Chicago Tribune itself?

Sister newspapers published in coordination with each other? Or just buying the Tribune so as to fold it and eliminate the competition?
Whodathunk a quarter of a century ago that the great winner and new heavyweight champion (or are modern newspapers bantamweight instead?) of the Chicago newspaper wars would be the Sun-Times? It’s a thought that leaves me staggering with a headache.

Talk about an unpredicted outcome!

NOW LIKE I stated before, the report in Crain’s was purposely vague because Sun-Times officials are being vague. In fact, it may well be possible that this is just cheap trash talk by Sun-Times executives who want to make the Tribune types wet their pants a bit at the very thought of becoming merely a part of Wrapports – the Chicago-based company that now owns the Sun-Times and always engages in high-minded talk about how they’re going to turn the newspaper reporting assets to bolster a digitally-based media company.

This may be the ultimate evidence of talk being cheap.

Although it also has me wondering what will become of the high and mighty Tribune – whose cornerstone of the gothic tower along Michigan Avenue reminds us that it has been in place since 1847 and probably thinks it will outlive the city of Chicago itself!

Sold to the Sun-Times? Or is there anything to all that rumor-mill rumblings that Rupert Murdoch might actually consider purchasing the newspaper.

HE IS THE man who already owns the Wall Street Journal (along with his New York Post) and who allegedly believes that having the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune all aligned together would give him the basis of a truly national news brand in this country.

Which was the reason that the Tribune types themselves bought the old Times-Mirror Co. a decade ago – thinking that having the Times and Newsday in New York’s suburbs would give them a combo in the top three U.S. media markets.

Would that be enough to get a whole slew of Tribune types to jump ship and try to hook on at the Sun-Times – to avoid having to work for a Murdoch-owned publication? Or have times changed enough that no one would care that the Tribune would shift from being the sister newspaper of WGN-TV to being the sister publication of WFLD-TV (which originally was created to be the television counterpart of the Sun-Times).

I don’t know what the outcome of all this is going to be. Although it won’t surprise me if whoever does wind up taking on the Chicago Tribune will have some vision similar to the Sun-Times types – taking all those reporting assets and archives and trying to put them to use on the Internet.

THERE IS VALUE in all that information – no matter how many advertising-oriented dinks want to view the news “content” of a newspaper as space-filler in between the girdle ads.

About the only thing I am sure of these days is whatever the outcome of the Tribune (and Sun-Times) ownership situation turns out to be, it will be some status that – back when I was a beginning reporter-type for the now-defunct (and sorely missed) City News Bureau of Chicago – none of us could have dreamed of a quarter-of-a-century ago.


No comments: