Copley Hires Broker to Explore Sale

By Comerford, Mike | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), July 21, 2000 | Go to article overview

Copley Hires Broker to Explore Sale


Comerford, Mike, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


The Copley Press Inc. said Thursday it has hired an investment bank to advise it on the possible sale of the Naperville Sun and its four daily newspapers in major cities ringing Chicago.

The chain of dailies and weeklies has been losing circulation for much of the 1990s and more recently has been cutting staff. But the chain remains one of the top newspaper outlets in the Chicago area with a circulation it says is 107,000 daily and 268,300 weekly.

Copley said it would consider "mergers, sales or other transactions."

Publications that could be effected include The Courier News, Elgin; The Beacon News, Aurora; The Herald News, Joliet; The News Sun, Waukegan; the Sun; and a group of 14 free weeklies.

About 970 employees work at the papers.

"They've been co-mingling their staffs, co-mingling management and, more recently, co-mingling content," said David Nelson, chairman, Newspaper Department, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University. "These are all signs of closing down, of slowly giving up ... It all has the smell of death."

Copley officials on Thursday declined to comment on reports that the La Jolla, Calif.-based chain had been in talks with Shaw Newspapers, based in Dixon, Ill., to sell parts of the chain. Shaw, which publishes the Kane County Chronicle and the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake, could not be reached for comment.

"We realized that we had to find ways to do a better job in this market or find another place to go," said Harold Fuson Jr., vice president and chief legal officer for Copley Press. "It is difficult to see how this is going to shake out."

The dailies ringing the Chicago suburbs suffered from the long- term economic decline of Chicago's satellite cities, but also failed in attempts to capitalize as suburban growth reached and revitalized those cities.

In Elgin, for example, The Courier News has lost 34 percent of its circulation in the last five years even as the city has been one of the fastest growing in the Chicago area. Over a 10-year period the change is even more dramatic as it dropped from 32,722 to 17,687 circulation, a 45.9 percent plunge, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations in Schaumburg. …

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