Chicago Sun-Times has new owner

The Chicago Sun-Times has a new lease on life, and you can thank Jim Tyree for it.

The paper was sold for just the fourth time in its 60-year history to Tyree and his group of investors, in a deal worth $5 million, while assuming $21 million in liabilities. In order to make the deal work for Tyree (and the bankruptcy court), the unions had to agree to major concessions.

The Sun-Times has been drifting away for years, filing for Chapter 11 last March after seeing ad revenue and circulation plummet – which has been a problem for almost every major newspaper in the country.

But the Sun-Times has been hit the hardest, thanks to several scandals related to the previous ownership of the paper, which was headed by Conrad Black (who went to prison for his role in the scandals.)

Previous owners included Field Communications and News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch.

The paper’s circulation had steadily dropped since Murdoch bought the paper in the 1980’s and made changes a lot of readers didn’t like. When the paper was sold in 1986 due to FCC cross-ownership rules preventing Murdoch from owning the Sun-Times and WFLD-TV (the acquisition was part of a six-station deal from Metromedia to help launch the Fox network), it was bought by Hollinger international, which was controlled indirectly by Black.

The problems of the Sun-Times are illustrated here in a Think Tank I wrote on April 8, 2007 titled “Let’s Get Into It.”

The paper has made a move to win back readers readers over the past two years by returning its editorial stance to the center and dropping several controversial columnists like Jay Mariotti.