Newspapers around the country have been closing down as advertisers jump ship to spend their money on Facebook, Google and other digital platforms. In Chicago, one radio station believes owning a newspaper will be good for both organizations. WBEZ’s board of directors has voted to acquire The Chicago Sun-Times.
WBEZ’s parent organization is Chicago Public Media. CEO Matt Moog says this deal is an important step to grow and strengthen local journalism in Chicago. “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.”
According to the two organizations, The Sun-Times would join WBEZ as a not-for-profit subsidiary of Chicago Public Media.
A report on the WBEZ website says both WBEZ and the Sun-Times would maintain their own newsrooms, own staff, and own “editorial independence.”
Nykia Wright will remain CEO of the paper and report to Moog. Both newsrooms would also hire executive editors, positions that do not exist now. “For the Sun-Times, it actually means longevity,” Wright said in the WBEZ report. “When we think about the most prominent news organizations, most people naturally think about the coasts, and this gives the Midwest, specifically Chicago, an opportunity to show that news can be strong in local communities.”
The Sun-Times will maintain its offices in the West Loop, and WBEZ will remain headquartered at Navy Pier.
The newspaper was founded in 1948 through a merger of the Chicago Sun and the Daily Times. WBEZ first went on the air in 1943 as a subsidiary of the Chicago Board of Education after school officials saw the benefit of radio as a teaching tool during a polio outbreak in the 1930s, according to the WBEZ website.