'Sun-Times' Staffers Welcome Sale to 'A Chicago Guy'

By: Joe Strupp Newsroom staffers at the Chicago Sun-Times welcomed today's announcement that the paper's sale to a local owner would be approved, although most regretted the givebacks needed to make it possible.

"It is good news, anything that keeps us going for a while is good," said Tom McNamee, editorial page editor and a staffer since 1982. "We didn't know if we'd get a resolution or not - I wondered what I would do next for a living."

Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet said it was another sign of the paper's resilience: "The scrappy Sun-Times has survived another near-death experience and knowing the paper as I do, the paper will continue to endure. The Sun-Times is too important to the people of Chicago to do anything but continue to thrive under our new ownership."

Word came down earlier today that a bankruptcy judge had approved the sale of the Sun-Times Media Group to a group led by local businessman James Tyree. That followed an agreement by the paper's unions to agree to concessions that included salary and other cutbacks.

"Everyone had to take a hit and that is hard," McNamee added. "But he seems to have an interest in the well-being off the newspaper and the city."

Others, such as Deputy Editorial Page Editor Kate Grossman, also noted the givebacks, but welcomed the new owers. "We are all taking wage cuts and we recognize that is a reality and we are certainly glad it will continue and Chicago will have two newspapers," she said.

Columnist Bill Zwecker, an 18-year employee, praised the employees who agreed to cuts, but admitted they had little choice. "It was clear that if we did not agree to these very stringent demands [the new owners] would have walked away and we would have been liquidated," he said. "We are happy that we can at least go forward at this point. There are a lot of unanswered questions, but [Tyree] gives us a lot of hope."

Jack Barry, assistant managing editor and a 19-year employee, said that having a Chicagoan in the ownership chair is a positive: "It is great to see that his group appears to really see the value of what we do and wants to see that the city of Chicago still has us around."

Editor-in-Chief Don Hayner declared his view in one word: "relief."
He also praised the staff for working to keep the paper going during the recent sensitive times. "There is a lot of sacrifice that people are making, but everyone wants to do it because everyone wants to save the paper." On Tyree, he said: "there is a lot of hope that this is the guy. This guy is a Chicago guy and I am happy about his roots and how he views the paper."

Misha Davenport, co-chair of the Sun-Times newspaper guild unit and a features reporter, also welcomed the sale, but called the negotiations "brutal." "The one good thing is that for the first time in a long time the paper will be under the ownership of a Chicagoan," he said. "You hope that when an owner is a resident of the city, they kind of have a feel for the city."

Columnist Neil Steinberg put it bluntly: "It is better than going out of business."


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