With Chicago Public Media, parent company of news/talk WBEZ (91.5), planning to take over operations of the Chicago Sun-Times, two of CPM’s top executives – CEO Matt Moog and Chief Content Officer Tracy Brown – say as many as 50 new hires could result in the new combined operation. Additionally, the executives tell Northwestern University’s Medill Local News Initiative there are no plans to decrease distribution of the Sun-Times and WBEZ will continue to work with other news outlets.
“Editorial partnerships are really important to us,” Brown said in a Q&A feature with the university’s publication. “Just as we partnered with the Tribune and the Sun-Times and we’re part of the ‘Solving for Chicago’ collaborative. We’ve done ProPublica. In fact, I think there will be more opportunities for that, not fewer.”
Moog reiterated that there are no plans for layoffs at either organization. In fact, he believes the combined entity will add employees. “My expectation is, by the time we get ready to close [the deal], we’re probably going to have in the neighborhood of 40 or 50 open positions that we need to fill,” he said in the piece. The merger of the two news outlets is an “investment in growth,” he continued. “If we look forward years in the future, I am very optimistic that the newsroom will be larger than it is today and that we’ll continue to be able to hire more staff across the organization.”
The combination of the public radio station and the daily newspaper would create one of the largest nonprofit news organizations in the nation. Moog believes similar unions will occur in other markets.
“There are many, many people interested in finding a sustainable path forward for local journalism,” Moog explained. “Although I think for some people this combination was unexpected, when they get a chance to think about it, they get really excited, like this could really work. There’s a lot of strengths and assets coming together in a way that could really transform things.”
The newsrooms will share resources, but will continue to focus on their target audiences. “We will continue to serve our respective audience and look for opportunities to share content for both newsrooms across all of our platforms,” Brown said. The Sun-Times, for instance, will continue as a seven-day publication.
“Our goal is to keep the paper as healthy and with as broad a circulation as many days a week as possible for as long as possible,” Moog explained. “We are well aware that other newspapers are experimenting with other schedules. But we don’t have any specific plans to reduce the schedule.”