Tribune's Greising joins O'Shea's Chicago News Cooperative

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Posted by on October 28, 2009 at 10:21:42:

Tribune's Greising joins O'Shea's Chicago News Cooperative

By: Ann Saphir
Oct. 27, 2009

(Crain's) -- David Greising, one of the Chicago Tribune's best-known columnists, has left the paper to join a start-up news cooperative founded by former Tribune Managing Editor James O'Shea.

Mr. Greising, 49, adds to the star power at Mr. O'Shea's Chicago News Cooperative, which already has on board former Tribune Managing Editor James Warren and, as a director, former Trib Editor Ann Marie Lipinski.

The cooperative, funded in part by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and backed by WTTW-TV/Channel 11, aims to rejuvenate the news business at a time when many of the old-line for-profit newspapers, including the Trib, are struggling with plunging ad sales and declining circulation.

"Part of the attraction for me in this whole venture is approaching something in a way that hasn't been tried before and we hope will rebuild a sustainable, commercial, socially beneficial journalism model," Mr. Greising said. "If it does turn out that the revenue streams that are developed are good, we could do something that will be successful not only in Chicago but can be replicated across the country."

One of those revenue streams will come from the cooperative's deal to provide local content to the New York Times on Fridays and Sundays starting next month. But the cooperative will also run a Web site,, whose emphasis "will be on shoe-leather reporting about politics, policies and business in Chicago and the surrounding areas," Mr. Greising said.

It's also developing ties with local TV and radio stations, including WBEZ-FM, to partner on content.

When Mr. O'Shea approached him several months ago with his "big idea," Mr. Greising already had been thinking about new models for journalism, he said. He was convinced that the problems plaguing traditional print media weren't going to go away when the economy picked up again.

At the time, he was working on a book about private equity and venture capitalists.

"In a lot of those interviews, I was exposed to people who were funding entrepreneurs," Mr. Greising said, and he had gotten "a little bit of the bug." So after 11 years at the Trib, he decided to try something new.

The cooperative, now a non-profit, will use a new Illinois law to change to a low-profit limited liability company next year. The structure allows it to take money from foundations as well as private investors.

"I wish with all my heart that newspapers can reverse the trends they are facing both in terms of declining revenue and declining readership," Mr. Gresing said. "But I think, given what's happening, we need to look for other ways."

A spokeswoman for the newspaper had no immediate comment.

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