Kirk tries to allay ‘uncertainty and concern’ at Sun-Times

Jim Kirk

With the future of the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader in the balance, anxious employees received a message of support from their boss Tuesday.

One day after a group led by Edwin Eisendrath and a coalition of labor unions secured financing to purchase the publications from Wrapports Holdings LLC, staffers got a pep talk in the form of an email from Jim Kirk, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Sun-Times.

“There is a lot of interest in our company because of our great brands, the content we produce and especially because of the people who work here,” Kirk wrote.

As first reported here, Eisendrath and his group placed more than $11.2 million in escrow Monday, meeting the deadline set by the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division, which is overseeing the transaction. The government has encouraged Eisendrath’s group to compete against Chicago Tribune owner tronc, which signed a letter of intent May 15 to acquire the Wrapports publications.

Referring to the Eisendrath bid, Kirk wrote: “This is not the last step in the process. The parties continue to negotiate to see if a deal can be completed. In addition, the offer from Tronc still remains active.”

A third option for Wrapports — the worst-case scenario — would be to cease publication of the Sun-Times and the Reader, which both operate at a deficit.

“I know that this process has led to an extraordinary amount of uncertainty and concern,” Kirk acknowledged. “We are heading toward completing a deal with the goal of keeping our products thriving.”

Added Kirk: “One of the greatest things about working here is how we come together as a team to compete, to win, and most importantly, to help each other.”

Here is the text of Kirk’s email to staff:

Good morning. I wanted to update everyone on the status of the negotiations for the sale of company assets and clear up some misconceptions. Multiple media outlets, including the Sun-Times, reported late yesterday that a group led by Edwin Eisendrath had met a deadline for raising the needed money to submit a bid for the Sun-Times, Reader and Straight Dope.
 
As Eisendrath said in our story, this is not the last step in the process. The parties continue to negotiate to see if a deal can be completed. In addition, the offer from Tronc still remains active.  
 
So what does this mean for us? As I’ve said, there is a lot of interest in our company because of our great brands, the content we produce and especially because of the people who work here. I know that this process has led to an extraordinary amount of uncertainty and concern.  We are heading toward completing a deal with the goal of keeping our products thriving. Our employees are crucial in that process and, importantly, will be going forward.
 
One of the greatest things about working here is how we come together as a team to compete, to win, and most importantly, to help each other. That’s why if you have concerns, please don’t be shy to come by to talk, or send an email.
 
More soon.
 
Jim