The Chicago Sun-Times, the oldest-running newspaper in the city of Chicago, Illinois, highlighted their financial troubles with a blank front page in a plea to “protect the long-term survival” of its newsroom.
The paper was nearly bought out by its long-standing rival, the Chicago Tribune, last year when a coalition of labour union leaders pooled their resources and outbid the Tribune to save the floundering paper. Since then the paper has struggled to regain its footing in an increasingly anti-journalism world. The Sun-Times outsourced its distribution to the Chicago Tribune in 2007 and later shut down its own printing press, outsourcing the service to its rival in 2011.
The Sun-Times has had to lay-off staff members to cut costs as late as this April. The newspaper, like many other media outlets, has fallen on hard times as newspaper revenues have declined worldwide with the proliferation of online news, as opposed to print editions.
The online edition of the article was more articulate in its appeal, asking readers to imagine the city of Chicago without the newspaper. The Chicago Sun-Times appealed to its readers to sign up for a $7.49 subscription per month which would provide them with unlimited and unrestricted online content. It also reaffirmed its commitment to visual journalism, several years after being heavily criticized for eliminating their photography team in favour of freelance photographers.
The blank front page is indeed a fresh cry for help. While some outlets like the Wall Street Journal are based on a subscription-only model with paywalls, and some like the Washington Post offer more content after a subscription, the Sun-Times print appeal to save journalism is a breath of fresh air, even if in perilous circumstances.