MediaFile

At Chicago Sun-Times, portrait of a newspaper investor

It’s not every day that you get people who are anxious to tell you that they’re investing in newspapers, that great industry sector that took a swan dive into an empty swimming pool over the past couple years. Private equity firms that are getting into that game again are just that — PRIVATE.

The latest buyers of the Chicago Sun-Times and parent company Sun-Times Media Group identified themselves on Friday, however, and we’d like to share their names with you too. Good luck with the newspaper game.

    Jim Tyree, Chairman and CEO of Mesirow Financial, Managing Member, Sun-Times Media Holdings, LLC Andrew Agostini, Principal and Owner, J.L. Woode Ltd. Kevin Flynn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Emerald Ventures, Inc. Ed Heil, Investor and Entrepreneur Michael Mackey, Senior Managing Director, Insurance Services, Mesirow Financial William Parrillo and Robert Parrillo, Private Investors Richard Price, President and Chief Operating Officer, Mesirow Financial Ed Ross, Principal and Owner, J.L. Woode Ltd. W. Rockwell “Rocky” Wirtz, President, Wirtz Corporation Bruce Young, Vice Chairman, Mesirow Financial

The Sun-Times’s website, by the way, has some mugshots. The rival Chicago Tribune tells us that the list is “studded with colorful Chicagoans.” Hopefully Saturday’s newspaper story will say why they are. I’m not a Chicagoan myself, so I’m relying on you readers to tell us why these people are colorful.

The New York Times tries local news, far away

If you read often enough about the supposed death of the newspaper business, you would think that the nation’s newsrooms are increasingly depopulated, barren places, with darkened offices and empty cubicles… the occasional tumbleweed blowing past. (Actually,  large stretches of Tribune Co’s New York bureau look just like that, as I saw earlier this year).

In San Francisco, Chicago and other metropolitan centers, you would be wrong. It’s true that both cities bear unfortunate marks of how rough the advertising decline, rise of the Internet and financial crisis have treated their news operations: Hearst was toying with shutting down the San Francisco Chronicle, and Chicago’s leading daily papers, the Tribune and the Sun-Times, are owned by bankrupt companies. Improbably enough, both are turning into hot spots for local news competition.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal are fighting over San Francisco, and a private equity guy has teamed up with KQED and UC Berkeley to try a nonprofit local news experiment. And now, the Times reported on Wednesday, it is targeting some other cities, including Chicago. Here is an excerpt from reporter Richard Perez-Pena’s writeup on the Times’s decoder blog:

Wall Street Journal finds friend in Chicago

…And we’re not talking about Tribune Chief Executive Sam Zell. We Mean Coleen Davison, private citizen, and resident of Chicago, Illinois.

The Wall Street Journal turned a letter from Davison, a former Chicago Tribune subscriber, into an advertisement — that it tried to run in the Trib. Trouble is, that paper declined to run the ad. Now, it’s running in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Trib’s rival.

Here’s some of her letter:

Our growing discontent with the Tribune’s diminishing quality became intolerable after their redesign last fall, and led us to explore other news options. We settled on the WSJ after perusing several different newspapers, even though neither my husband nor I are particularly involved in the financial world. … While the focus is obviously on the business sector, there is so much to be gleaned about our world from your reporting. Your journalists/contributors clearly know their subjects. Articles are presented articulately and coherently. Your coverage of world news and your human interest pieces are insightful, engaging and thought provoking. And I LOVE your editorial pages-just when I had begun to think common sense was a lost art, I’ve discovered the WSJ!

Sam Zell ‘chastises’ his intern

Tribune Co.’s new owner, billionaire and orator nonpareil Sam Zell, let Chicago Tribune intern Katie Hamilton know exactly what he thought about her recent prank on rival paper the Chicago Sun-Times — one that has produced its fair share of chatter in the Windy City.

Hamilton and her colleagues submitted a music video that they sent to the Sun-Times, which offered a cash prize to whomever could produce the best video protesting Zell’s plan to sell the naming rights to the city’s historic Wrigley Field.

Here’s the memo that Zell sent to Tribune employees and that we got hold of: