By: E&P Staff
In a letter to readers in Wednesday’s editions, Chicago Sun-Times Publisher John Cruickshank vowed the paper’s coverage of the federal criminal fraud trial of deposed newspaper mogul Conrad Black will be fair and accurate — even as he acknowledged continuing bitter feelings at the paper towards the former CEO of its parent company.
“Despite feelings of resentment that are still quite inflamed in some quarters, our coverage of Mr. Black’s trial will be founded on the presumption that he and his colleagues are innocent until they are proven guilty,” Cruickshank wrote.
Jury selection begins Wednesday in downtown Chicago’s U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois, where Black is charged with racketeering, mail fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and obstruction of justice in the alleged looting of $84 million from Hollinger International, the Chicago-based publishing company now known as Sun-Times Media Group Inc. (STMG). Three other Hollinger executives are charged with various fraud counts in the alleged scheme.
The prosecution’s star witness will be F. David Radler, who Cruickshank replaced as publisher. Radler was for decades Black’s business partner, and has pleaded guilty to a single count of fraud in exchange for a 29-month prison sentence likely to be served in Canada, and a promise to cooperate with the feds. Radler is loathed by many at the Sun-Times who remember austerity measures that extended to shutting off escalators to save on the electric bill.
“These events stir strong feelings among those of us who lived through the trying years of Black’s control at the Sun-Times’ parent company,” Cruickshank wrote. “While our talented staff made valiant efforts to improve the quality of the paper, far too little was done by our parent firm to invest in a unique community enterprise experiencing intense competition in a challenging industry.”
But Cruickshank added that the paper is “focused firmly on the promise of the future, not the shortcomings of the past.”