The Sun-Times’ new chapter: Our digital content is now free for everyone

From The Chicago Sun-Times:

In recent years, Chicago has proven its reputation as an exceptional news town — one in which residents care passionately about its future and invest in its success. Our city has become known as a hub of innovation for local news. This year alone we’ve seen a number of great examples: City Bureau’s Documenters program, which trains people to document public meetings, is expanding nationally. Block Club Chicago is building an investigative reporting team. South Side Weekly and the Hyde Park Herald merged to form a South Side–focused nonprofit newsroom.

And in January, the Chicago Sun-Times became a nonprofit newsroom as part of Chicago Public Media.

The nation is watching what happens here to see whether Chicago can be a model for how to defend and rebuild local news. And it’s all thanks to you, the people of Chicago.

Because of you, our great city has a real chance to buck the alarming trend of local news shrinking nationwide. Between late 2019 and May 2022, 360 newspapers closed in the U.S., according to a June report from the Medill School of Journalism. A quarter of the country’s newspapers have closed since 2005, the study found, with two more closing every week — and Illinois has lost the most news outlets of any state during this period. The industry has seen a 70% decline in newsroom employees since 2006. The research also shows that local news really matters. When communities lose their local news coverage, they experience more corruption, pollution and poverty, and even experience a decline in voter turnout.

Providing the news for everyone

As a reader of the Chicago Sun-Times, you turn to us for the news you need to thrive. For timely, accurate and fairly reported stories on the issues that matter most. For stories that celebrate and honor the members of our community, from victories on the field to remembrances of lives well lived. Our journalists care about your community because it’s our community, too. And we strongly believe that everyone in the Chicago area should have access to the news, features and investigations we produce, regardless of their ability to pay.

So today, we are dropping our paywall and making it possible for anyone to read our website for free by providing nothing more than an email address. Instead of a paywall, we are launching a donation-based digital membership program that will allow readers to pay what they can to help us deliver the news you rely on.

It’s a bold move: Reporting the news is expensive, and the converging market forces of inflation and an anticipated (or possibly already here) recession could further endanger local newsrooms like ours. But we know it’s the right thing to do.

Link to the rest at The Chicago Sun-Times and thanks to C. for the tip.

PG has mentioned his fondness for Chicago newspapers before. He lived in Chicago when it had two morning papers and two evening papers plus a fifth paper that catered to Chicago’s large African-American population.

The Sun-Times was a tabloid paper, albeit with a serious reporting staff, not typical of a tabloid. That format was easier to read while riding the L or the train to and from work. You could even handle it if you couldn’t find a seat and had to stand.

3 thoughts on “The Sun-Times’ new chapter: Our digital content is now free for everyone”

  1. Trivia:
    The Trump building now stands on the site of the old Sun Times building. Not sure who made the money on the land deal.

    • That’s easy:

      The lawyers. In particular, the lawyers who handled the various real-estate-tax aspects of the transaction, and for years thereafter.

      Chicago real-estate taxation is notoriously opaque, unless you’ve got the right fixer with connections to City Halllawyer. I saw it enough in the few years I practiced there; I paid attention to the cases being called before and immediately after mine. In those pre-widespread-cell-phone days, there wasn’t a lot else to do…

    • For real? Clearly, I haven’t been keeping up on my media gossip. My first internship was at Digital Chicago, a magazine located and printed in the Sun Times building. Before then I took a tour with one of my journalism classes (my teacher was a sports reporter for the Sun-Times).

      The teacher noted the Sun-Times was often used as a setting in movies because it looks like the “idea” of a newsroom: rows of desks, reporters on their phones, others clacking away on their keyboards. I was fascinated by the reporters who had stacks — towers — of newspapers beside their desks.

      I don’t remember why they were keeping those Leaning Towers of Newsprint, but the one reporter caught my attention because he was standing next to his while talking to someone on his landline. He was gesturing while talking, and I waited to see if he might accidentally topple the stack with his phone cord, or with his hands while gesticulating. But I guess he had “situational awareness” because his news tower remained standing.

      Anyway. Good for the Sun-Times that they found a way to survive.

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