Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Is anyone big-enough to handle the ego-trip that is one-time Bright One?

It seems there are people whose egos are bloated enough that they’re willing to come up with cash to take on the financial obligations of publishing the Chicago Sun-Times.
Will Sun-Times columnists become 21st Century take on the "Men from 10" of one-tine Voice of Labor?
The cost is the price of being able to say one is a big-shot and a publisher of a “Major Metro Daily” newspaper in the Second City.

BECAUSE LOOKING AT the various reports about groups and individuals wishing to make a bid to purchase the newspaper, the ego factor seems to be the unifying point.

There’s that old cliché about, “Never Argue With A Man Who Buys Ink By The Barrel.” It seems there are those who think that being “that man” will mean everybody will be forced to listen to their perspectives on issues.

That’s about the only way from a purely objective sense that buying the Chicago Sun-Times makes any sense.

Crain’s Chicago Business reported that the family of billionaire Neil Bluhm is interested in making a bid for the newspaper. Bluhm is one of the wealthiest men in this country, and ranks third most wealthy in Illinois. Which would be interesting considering that the number one most wealthy in this state is Ken Griffin – the man who has been a significant financial backer of Gov. Bruce Rauner.

COULD IT BE Bluhm think he can use the pages of the city’s Number Two paper to challenge the governor? Could he think this is the cheaper route to gain influence rather than running for governor – as is billionaire J.B. Pritzker?

There also was the report by long-time local media writer Robert Feder who said that hedge fund manager Thane Ritchie (who has made past bids for publications such as Newsweek and also was a political supporter of Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot’s third-party political fantasies) is interested in the Sun-Times – along with former 43rd Ward Alderman Edwin Eisendrath.
Once an alderman, Eisendrath now a publisher?

The one-time Lincoln Park neighborhood representative in the City Council who later served as a Chicago-based administrator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development back during the Bill Clinton presidency thinks that being the boss at the one-time Bright One is the way to get public influence.

Although what catches my eye about his alleged bid is that it’s not his money being put forth. He’s putting together a group that would gain the bulk of its funding from the Chicago Federation of Labor.
Bluth ego big enough for Sun-Times?

CONSIDERING HOW MUCH organized labor opposed Rauner’s bid for governor in 2014 and has been disgusted with how apathetic in its opposition to the governor the Sun-Times has become, I don’t doubt they would want to turn it into a hard-core voice in opposition to the Rauner vision of “reform” for Illinois.

Yes, I could see a younger generation ranting about the “bias” that such a pairing would result in. Although considering how many conservative ideologues are trying to buy their own newsgathering organizations so as to spread their take on issues, perhaps this is merely the other side engaging in similar tactics.

As for the older generations, it could be seen as a return to the world of local media. Since the Chicago Federation of Labor was the one-time, long-time owner of WCFL-AM – which used to openly boast of itself as the “Voice of Labor” just as WGN-AM was the broadcast partner of the alleged “World’s Greatest Newspaper.”
tronc Tower types watching ego maneuvers

Of course, WCFL turned rock ‘n’ roll back in the 1960s and was once a heavy-hitter on the local radio scene. “Super-CFL,” it used to call itself, which inspired Capitol Fax newsletter publisher Rich Miller to joke Monday about the Sun-Times becoming, “Super CS-T, the Voice of Labor!”

BUT THE CHICAGO Federation of Labor has been out of the local media scene since 1978 when they sold the radio station, which has gone through a few changes and has evolved into WMVP, the all-sports talk station at AM 1000.

Is this the return of local labor and its “voice” to the Chicago scene? Or are they likely to get out-bid by one of the other rich guys with egos run amok?

Although I did notice one report hinting that it might not be enough for someone to offer more money, and that the Justice Department’s anti-trust division may well decide to stay with the offer made last month for the Chicago Tribune to take over control of the Sun-Times – considering that Sun-Times management already relies on Tribune resources to print and distribute the physical product.

That might be the “nightmare” scenario for news consumers AND for the Chicago News Guild, both of which want to see a Sun-Times that remains separate of the Chicago Tribune. But whether anyone has a big-enough ego to take on the potential nightmare scenario of actually trying to run the Sun-Times remains to be seen.


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