South Side newspapers merge
The Hyde Park Herald merged with nonprofit South Side Weekly last week in an effort to keep the 140-year-old community newspaper alive.
- The Herald, "standing on its own, like all newspapers, was losing revenue and losing circulation," longtime owner Bruce Sagan told South Side Weekly.
Why it matters: The merger follows other recent nonprofit transitions in local media. The Sun-Times joined forces with WBEZ last year, and The Reader shifted to nonprofit status in April.
Context: The Hyde Park Herald was founded in 1882 and purchased by then-City News overnight editor Bruce Sagan for $2,500 in 1951.
- Sagan, 92, later made his fortune by owning and selling the Southtown Economist (now the Daily Southtown) and other local papers. But he held on to the Herald until last week, when he transferred ownership to South Side Weekly's non-profit entity.
- The papers had already been sharing offices for two years.
What they're saying: "The merger allows us to both reduce operating costs and explore new revenue opportunities for the Herald," South Side Weekly managing director Jason Schumer tells Axios, referring to funding like grants and donations.
Yes, but: Those cost reductions won't come from ditching the print versions.
- Schumer says they still make money and "reach people on the South Side that don't have reliable internet access or who aren't particularly tech savvy. You'd be surprised at how many people still prefer to read a physical newspaper."
What's next: Both papers will continue as standalone products with some shared staff.
- Schumer has mused about expanding the neighborhood news model to other parts of the South Side, like Englewood, but says "it's theoretical at this point."
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