Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Production Upgrade Delayed

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Production Upgrade Delayed

Article excerpt

Chicago Sun-Times abandons plans to upgrade production - for now

Squeezed by a newspaper industry whose recovery is fragile at best and a downtown real estate market that remains horrendous, the Chicago Sun-Times is abandoning plans to move to offset production.

The Sun-Times disclosed it has taken its building off the market after two years in which the prime river-front downtown site failed to find a buyer.

Proceeds from the sale - the building had an $89 million price tag in 1990 - were intended to finance a new production facility with offset presses that executives had hoped to have operating this year (E&P, Feb. 24, 1990 P. 31).

With a circulation of 530,856, the tabloid Sun-Times is the nation's biggest paper producing process full color daily with letterpress equipment. The New York Daily News is a bigger letterpress operation but produces no full color.

"Converting to offset printing is not mandatory," Sam S. McKeel, president and chief executive officer of the Sun-Times Company, said at a press conference to announce management changes at the newspaper.

"We are putting out a good-looking paper on letterpress. The color we are putting out is perhaps the best letterpress printing I have ever seen," McKeel added.

At the same time, McKeel acknowledged that an option to buy 72 units of converted offset presses from the Los Angeles Times would not be exercised.

"Right now, that is all off the boards," McKeel said.

The Sun-Times' three lines of letterpress operate in a building erected in 1957. They are by far the oldest daily presses in a region that features excellent state-of-the-art newspaper offset color produced at the Chicago Tribune's nine-year-old Freedom Center and new press lines at the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights and the Southtown Economist of Chicago.

McKeel scoffed at the recurring rumors of financial trouble at the paper, which is owned by the New York-based investor group Adler & Shaykin.

He said the closely held Sun-Times Co., which does not report financial results, is operating at a profit and has "good relations with our lenders," who are holding a substantial mortgage on the paper. …

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