Chicago: Front page news (and burying the lede)

tribuneOn Wednesday, several media outlets reported that the Tribune Company – a media conglomerate that owns a number of TV and radio stations, and newspapers across the country – is having investment bankers assist them in evaluating potential offers to buy the newspapers.

What was buried well in the discussions and the articles was one key bit: Wrapports LLC is interested in potentially purchasing the Chicago Tribune.

Why care?

Well, Wrapports already owns the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader, the main independent weekly paper of Chicago.

If they purchase the Trib, they’ll own the three main newspapers in town.

And while this is only projection – and a lot of “What if?” at the moment – it’s clear that if such a sale were to happen, it would be a very likely possibility that one of the daily papers would close, or be merged into the other paper.

I was surprised that aspect of the story hadn’t been more widely reported – or more emphasized. Chicago could be left with only one daily paper.

Granted, that’s one more than many cities in this country have right now. Newspapers and magazines are losing circulation, as people flock to free content on the Internet. But it’s still quite something for the town of Royko and Ebert and dozens of other notable newsroom journalists.

It’s understandable that the Trib and Sun-Times would play down that kind of speculation. Both are potentially involved in the story, and have to cover it as objectively as possible.

WTTW’s Chicago Tonight did make a brief mention of the story here.

Host Phil Ponce quipped that the Sun-Times taking over the Tribune would be like ‘the tadpole [eating] the whale’.

Footnote: That’s happened before – just ask former employees of the Pittsburgh Press, the proverbial ‘whale’ that was ‘eaten’ in 1992 when its smaller joint operating agreement partner, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, absorbed the Press and shut it down (after a lengthy strike).

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