The Rise and Fall of the Chicago News Cooperative
What can the Chicago News Cooperative experiment teach us about the future of non-profit news?
- The new owners of the Chicago Sun-Times didn’t come to the rescue of the Chicago News Cooperative, as some had hoped. But they may be helping to bail out the defunct nonprofit news outfit after all. “The Chicago News Cooperative is close to a deal with the Chicago Sun-Times that will help us wind down our affairs and, most importantly, make certain all of our former colleagues get paid,” David Greising, managing editor of the CNC, wrote in a note Tuesday to CNC’s free-lance writers. “The Sun-Times is paying only enough to help us cover our bills, including the amounts owed to our former colleagues, but the Sun-Times will not release any money until it receives releases from 100 percent of the CNC's former contributors. . . . In exchange for your help in this matter, you will receive a check for $100. The Sun-Times will take this amount from the sum they are paying to help us cover our obligations and liquidate the Cooperative in an orderly fashion.” It’s nice to know that the writers may get what they’re owed. But it’s not clear what the Sun-Times gets out of the deal.
- With the collapse of the underfunded CNC last month, Mihalopoulos was one of the first staffers to be approached about employment by the Sun-Times. Among multiple connections between the two organizations, Michael Ferro, chairman of Sun-Times owner Wrapports, was on the CNC board, and John Canning Jr., one of Wrapports main backers, was chairman of the CNC board. Since then, the company also has hired CNC political reporter Hunter Clauss for the Sun-Times Media Wire, and editorial assistant Bridget O’Shea, daughter of CNC editor Jim O’Shea, as a suburban Pioneer Press reporter.
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