Union employees at the Gary Post-Tribune are launching an effort to purchase the newspaper, which is the second largest newspaper in the bankrupt Sun-Times Media Group.
"The Post Tribune and all the Sun-Times newspapers are on the sales block, and we see no reason why the new owners should not be the employees," said Andy Grimm, president of the Gary Newspaper Guild.
The Guild is being supported in its effort by its national union and consultant Ownership Associates, of Cambridge, Mass., Grimm said. Ownership Associates recently was an advisor to an employee group and investors who bought some of Maine's largest newspapers from the Seattle Times Co.
The Sun-Times Media Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March, after sustaining deep losses in advertising revenue and circulation. It has been shedding jobs and furloughing employees since last year, shooting for a 15 percent cut in personnel costs.
Sun-Times spokeswoman Lindley White would neither confirm nor deny that the Gary Newspaper Guild is an interested bidder.
"We are not speaking publicly about any aspects of the sales process," she said.
A purchase of the Post-Tribune by the Gary Newspaper Guild and local investors would face a number of hurdles.
In early 2007, the Post-Tribune closed its printing plant in Gary. The paper is now printed at a Sun-Times facility in Illinois. The Gary newspaper's online edition is also produced out of Sun-Times offices in Illinois. The newspaper would realize increased costs if it did those operations on its own, or even if it contracted them out.
Earlier this year, the Sun-Times Media Group put the Post-Tribune's Merrillville headquarters up for sale.
The Post-Tribune's daily circulation dropped 7.6 percent to 55,767 newspapers in the most recent six-month period reported by the Audit Bureau of Circulation. Sunday circulation dropped 3.5 percent to 59,469 newspapers.
Several parties are interested in exploring a bid for all or parts of the Sun-Times Media Group, according to a report in Thursday's Chicago Tribune. Those include a hedge fund, a chairman of a prominent financial services company, and a media company owner.
The Gary Newspaper Guild wants to gain an equity stake in the Post-Tribune under an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, which would give the newspaper important tax exemptions, Grimm said. The Guild is seeking other interested investors and has talked to several business people locally, Grimm said.