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Major Chicago media shake up: Sun-Times buys Chicago Reader

Bryan Alaspa's picture

For fans of the weekly alternative newspaper in Chicago known as the Reader, the news came down today that a major mainstream newspaper has bought it out.

For Chicagoans, there are four basic newspapers to choose from. For those in the city there is the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. For residents in the suburbs there is the Daily Herald. Then there are those who prefer the alternative weekly newspaper that comes out once a week and is given away for free called the Chicago Reader.

Now, word has come down that the Chicago Reader has been bought by the mainstream media publication the Chicago Sun-Times. The Reader has been a popular weekly newspaper offering an alternative, and generally liberal, viewpoint for the city for a long time. In recent years, like many newspapers across the country, the Reader has gone through bankruptcy. Of course, both the Tribune and the Sun-Times have also been going through serious financial issues.

The Reader has now been bought by the Wrapports company which is owned by the same people who also own the Sun-Times. So far, the terms of the agreement have yet to be disclosed in the media.

A statement from Wrapport’s CEO, Tim Knight, said, "The Chicago Reader has one of the most distinctive voices in the Chicago news community, and it has cultivated a dynamic and loyal audience. The Reader has demonstrated positive momentum in the last few years, expanding its readership to include new generations of Chicagoans, and the company has strong growth potential."

The Reader had been acquired by a hedge fund company called Atalaya Capital Management out of New York back in 2009. This year the company has been out aggressively trying to sell the media property. Last month a report came out in the Crain’s Chicago Business magazine that Wrapports had shot to the top of the list of potential buyers.

Prior to that, the Reader was owned and operated by the company Creative Loafing. Creative Loafing is also the owner of some other alternative weekly newspapers across the country including properties in Washington, D.C. and Atlanta.

The Reader has been around in the Chicago area since 1971. It was started by college students at Carleton College. The paper was given away free from the start at various locations around the city and at some vending machines located downtown. The business model was centered around revenue generated by ads and, in particular, the classified ads that it sold. For years the newspaper did well, but the digital age caused the print publication to suffer and it was never able to adapt as well to the digital world.

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