Sun-Times has ‘60 percent’ chance of survival, CEO Eisendrath says

Edwin Eisendrath and Madeleine Doubek

The Chicago Sun-Times has only a 60 percent chance of still being in business two years from now, according to the newspaper’s CEO.

Edwin Eisendrath, who headed the investor group that acquired the struggling daily tabloid last summer, shared the assessment in public remarks Thursday at the Illinois Press Association convention in Bloomington-Normal.

In response to an audience question, Eisendrath acknowledged that the Sun-Times was still losing money, and he pegged the likelihood of its survival in two years at “60 percent.” If it’s around then, he added, it should be viable for five years or more.

Chicago Sun-Times

In a followup Friday, he told me: “Chicagoans can do a lot to make sure we are here by subscribing today.”

Backed by a coalition of labor organizations and other investors, Eisendrath took over the Sun-Times and the alternative weekly Chicago Reader in July 2017, thwarting an attempt by Chicago Tribune parent company tronc to buy its rival. Eisendrath’s group was positioned as the only alternative to keeping Chicago a two-newspaper town.

Despite its appeal for support among union households, the Sun-Times has not experienced a groundswell of subscribers under the new ownership, Eisendrath said. With a redesign of the paper’s website and its move to a subscription paywall model, there will be a renewed effort to attract new customers.

His appearance at the statewide conference, hosted by Illinois Associated Press Media Editors, was moderated by Madeleine Doubek, director of policy and civic engagement for the Better Government Association.

Eisendrath also told the group his biggest surprise after acquiring the Sun-Times was the lack of diversity in the newsroom. “That’s being addressed,” he said.

Thursday’s comment of the day: Richard Sandler: Congrats to Bill Plante! Wish I had known about the ceremony. I would love to have attended. Bill and my older brother, Norm, were very close colleagues and friends during and after Norm’s years of covering the White House for UPI in the 80s and early 90s. I met Bill several time’s. He is and always has been a class act, both on and off the TV!