In a blockbuster deal that could change the Chicago journalism landscape, the parent company of the Sun-Times plans to sell all of its suburban daily and weekly newspapers to Tribune Publishing, sources said.
Once the sale is completed, Wrapports LLC would continue to publish only the Sun-Times daily tabloid and the Reader free weekly, according to insiders. Tribune Publishing, parent company of the Chicago Tribune and nine other newspapers nationwide, would acquire the Aurora Beacon-News, the Elgin Courier-News, the Lake County News-Sun, the Naperville Sun, the Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune, the SouthtownStar, and the 32 weekly newspapers published by the Pioneer Press.
Terms of the deal are not known, but the agreement between Jack Griffin, CEO of Tribune Publishing, and Michael Ferro Jr., chairman of Wrapports, is said to be on a “very aggressive timeline.” No contracts have been signed, but sources said Sun-Times Media personnel are already working to make the necessary system changes by early November.
Matthew Hutchison, senior vice president of corporate communications for Tribune Publishing, said: “We cannot comment on speculation.”
Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for Wrapports, said: “Wrapports is declining to comment on speculation.”
The surprise move comes as Wrapports is negotiating new terms of its printing and distribution agreements with Tribune Publishing. The current arrangement expires in May.
Wrapports was formed in 2011 by Ferro and CEO Timothy P. Knight after they negotiated to buy Sun-Times Media Holding Company from the estate of James C. Tyree, who had led the Sun-Times out of bankruptcy.
(My blog is published independently under a licensing agreement with Chicago Tribune Media Group.)
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