Well, this took me by surprise:
The board of directors of Chicago Public Media, the parent of public radio station WBEZ-FM, voted late Wednesday to pursue an acquisition of the Chicago Sun-Times, the next step in a process that could lead to the combination of two city newsrooms.
Both organizations have signed a nonbinding letter of intent to hammer out a partnership. Chicago Public Media also announced that Chicago tech entrepreneur Matt Moog, who has served for a year as interim CEO of the local National Public Radio affiliate, will become the new CEO. Nykia Wright, meanwhile, will remain CEO of the Sun-Times.
The two newsrooms would “create one of the largest local nonprofit news organizations in the nation and be a national model for the future of local journalism,” a joint statement issued Wednesday evening stated, adding that the two organizations “would continue to serve their respective audiences.”
The potential arrangement seems a bit unusual, with a nonprofit journalism institution combining with a for-profit one, said Rick Edmonds, media business analyst for the Poynter Institute. But it is becoming more common for legacy newspapers to convert to nonprofit status.
Though questions remain about what a deal would look like between the Sun-Times and WBEZ, joining forces would make sense for both organizations, said Tim Franklin, senior associate dean at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
WBEZ could "tap into the breaking-news muscle of the Sun-Times," he said. The Sun-Times, in turn, could get more stability around its ownership structure.
I think this is fantastic. It would certainly change the tenor of the tabloid Sun-Times, and might make me reconsider my subscription to the Chicago Tribune. (I already contribute monthly to WBEZ.)
This is one to watch.