Pick up a copy of the Sun-Times these days and you’ll no longer find any reference to Wrapports LLC, the media holding company that’s owned the paper since 2011.
Gone from the front page, the masthead and everywhere else is the corporate name once meant to signify the "rapport" of new technology and the "wrapping" of a traditional print newspaper. A “Wrapports” sign recently was removed from the entrance to the Sun-Times. New security badges issued to employees now say “Sun-Times” instead of “Wrapports.”
If you didn’t know better, you might think Wrapports was getting ready to jettison the Sun-Times from its portfolio.
Not true, says Dennis Culloton, president of Culloton Strategies and corporate spokesman for Wrapports. The decision to drop the Chicago-based parent company’s name was made to keep the focus on the Sun-Times and Sun-Times Network brands.
“Despite all the extremely bright people in the Wrapports family, they’ve got way too many brand names floating around,” Culloton said Wednesday. “Eventually it just confuses the customers. I think the Sun-Times should be the Sun-Times. It does make sense to have one less name on that masthead. Is it Wrapports or is it Sun-Times? I think that from a brand perspective that’s cleaner and makes more sense.”
Wrapports chairman Michael Ferro and his investment group remain committed to the Sun-Times, Culloton said. Pointing to the paper’s recent partnership with USA Today and improved single-copy sales, he said: “They’ve made a commitment to keeping the Sun-Times newspaper viable and strong for as long as there is a demand for a newspaper. If they can make this current strategy successful, I think it will be a pretty long run.”
Following the renegotiation of its printing and distribution deals and the influx of capital from the $23.5 million sale of 38 suburban newspapers to Tribune Publishing, the Sun-Times could become profitable, according to Culloton.
“Now that the restructuring is largely done, it's time to charge ahead with the new brand and the new logo and the network and the newspaper, which they tell me is going to be in the black, thanks to the transaction with the Tribune. With the work that [Wrapports CEO] Tim Knight and [Sun-Times publisher] Jim Kirk have done, they feel like they’re in better shape than they’ve been in a while to really make a go of it.”
If Ferro remains so confident of his investment, why did he recently have his name removed from the editorial masthead of the Sun-Times?
Said Culloton: “Michael doesn’t participate in the daily editorial decision-making, and he thought that those journalists who do ought to be the ones on the masthead.”