The new owners of the Chicago Sun-Times vowed Thursday to maintain the journalistic integrity of the newspaper without interference from labor unions or other investors.
Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, who will serve as chairman of the Sun-Times, said the unions will not be involved in any coverage of the news nor in the paper’s process of endorsing political candidates.
“We realize that the folks we intend to serve out there with the paper are ones that are going to look at this for fair and balanced journalism,” he said, “and the journalistic integrity that’s in place is important for us to maintain.”
Edwin Eisendrath, the former Chicago alderman who headed the investor group and will serve as CEO of ST Acquisition Holdings, was joined by Ramirez and other investors in officially announcing their acquisition of the Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader.
“The fastest way to destroy the value of any journalistic organization is to undermine its credibility,” Eisendrath said. “Everybody here is committed to first-rate journalism that tells genuine stories that matter to the people of Chicago. That is our north star.”
Eisendrath said the company’s strategy calls for growing print subscriptions in Chicago while developing new mobile platforms to expand digital readership.
Thursday’s news conference was held at Answers Media, a digital production center at 30 North Racine Avenue, which will serve as the new headquarters of the Sun-Times when its current lease expires in November at 350 North Orleans Street.
“The additional acquisition of Answers Media will allow us to expand . . . with high-quality multimedia content and innovative technology solutions that will attract a broad audience of new readers and advertising partners,” Eisendrath said.
The new owners have no plans to modify the existing printing and distribution agreement with Chicago Tribune owner tronc. “We’re going to honor every contract the paper has — whether it’s with the Tribune or [with] the subscribers who get the paper every day,” Eisendrath said. He added that there are no plans to lay off any employees.
Jim Kirk will continue as publisher and editor-in-chief of the Sun-Times. Other members of the current management team have been asked to stay on as well.
“We look forward to working with the new ownership group to bring new technology and other innovative approaches to support our world-class team of journalists,” said Kirk, who has been editor since 2012. He assumed additional responsibilities as publisher in 2013.
Shareholders in the new company include the Chicago Federation of Labor and a coalition of five other Chicago area labor organizations.
Identified among individual investors were: Jeff Bohnson, founder and CEO of Answers Media; Bill Brandt, corporate restructuring expert; John Eisendrath, TV producer/writer and brother of the CEO; Stuart Ellison, corporate financier; Leonard Goodman, attorney; Sidney Herman, attorney; Elzie Higginbottom, businessman and fundraiser; and Linda Yu, retired TV news anchor.