Our Pledge To You

Imagine Chicago without the Sun-Times: An urgent appeal

April 23, 2018

Graphics animation by Julia Dourgarian/Sun-Times

The Chicago Sun-Times is the oldest continuously published newspaper in the city.

Every day for 174 years, we have been there for you. Now we need you to be there for us.

We’re asking you to please support our daily work by subscribing to our website for $7.49 a month. That’s less than 25 cents a day. In return, you’ll get unlimited access to our web content and will help protect the long-term survival of our newsroom.

Chicago Sun-Times front page launching digital subscription plan

The front cover of the newspaper, April 23, 2018.

What’s at stake

Imagine our city without our headlines.

Without our journalists to tell your side of the story.

Without our beat writers to cover sports.

Without our watchdog reporters to keep an eye on government.

Without our columnists and editorial board to be a second voice.

Imagine it. Then help us make sure it doesn’t happen.

The economic reality

Until now, we’ve offered our online content for free. But we can no longer afford to operate our business this way.

The Alliance of Audited Media, an industry group that monitors the circulation of news publishers, estimates that the percentage of legitimate websites generating relevant, original content is very low, about 3 percent of the world’s 329 million websites, because the economics are brutal.

Google and Facebook dominate digital advertising, together collecting 73 percent of all digital ad revenue, according to a 2017 analysis by the research firm, Pivotal.  All other companies compete for rest of the digital advertising pie. As print advertising has declined year-after-year, this has a created an impossible business model for labor-intensive, quality local journalism.

Earlier this month, the Denver Post made a dramatic plea to save that paper from an owner who has financially drained the company and trimmed the reporting staff to the bone. Our story — in many ways — is similar.

We’ve suffered through a series of managers who sold our assets, took money out of journalism and left us hollowed out.

As recently as last summer, some thought the only way forward was to fold the Sun-Times into the competition. That’s when a broad coalition of business and labor leaders stepped up to thwart a takeover by the Chicago Tribune — and made a promise to help us win.

We’re investing to build a better product

We’re proud to say we’ve made significant progress since then. In November 2017, the Sun-Times moved to a high-tech office. Multimedia storytelling is now routine, and special projects and podcasts are in production. Our website traffic is up 25 percent since our new owners took over.

Importantly, we have recommitted to visual journalism to reverse the damage done when past management laid off the entire photography staff.

Last month, we greatly improved our website user experience by removing ads and designing pages that are easier to read. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We hope that you, too, like what you see.

Please support our website

Today, we’re launching a digital-subscription model — key to our long-term strategy to become profitable again.

Again, we’re asking you to support our work by subscribing to our website for $7.49 a month — less than 25 cents a day. That’s a small price to pay for journalism that is 100 percent honest and unflinchingly brave.

We can’t do this without you

Every day, even in the most challenging of circumstances, our reporters do the job. Every day, we tell stories that matter to the working men and women of our city, in print, in video, in podcasts, and live online. We do this because we have your back. And together we make a better city.

Read our stories. Support our advertisers.

This newspaper — the hardest-working paper in America — has been part of Chicago for a very long time.

Let’s make sure it stays that way.

To sign up for a Sun-Times digital or print subscription and take advantage of discounted offers, go to suntimes.com/subscribe. Readers who already have print subscriptions will be granted free access to all digital content at suntimes.com.