Time Out Chicago bought by parent company, staff report layoffs

Chicago Tribune| Crain’s

Time Out Chicago, an independent weekly entertainment guide published 44 times a year, has been acquired by worldwide parent Time Out Group, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Morningstar Inc. and Time Out Chicago founder Joe Mansueto sold the publication for $4 million. Mansueto also is an investor in Wrapports LLC, the group that owns and publishes the Chicago Reader and the Chicago Sun-Times. Oakley Capital Investments Ltd., TGO’s majority owner, plans to cut features, interviews and columns and transform the magazine to a listings-only, digital format, like the company’s other properties. They own 37 Time Out franchises in 25 countries (the Chicago venture, started in 2005, was a partnership instead of a franchise).

“We will be taking the business in a purely digital direction, which means that the print publication will cease,” said Jennifer Morgan, President of Time Out North America. “The timing will be determined once we’ve been able to complete a full assessment of our commitments.”

Facebook postings from Time Out employees indicate there was a round of layoffs this morning at the Chicago office. According to the Tribune:

Editorial changes will be forthcoming according to Morgan, as Time Out Chicago shifts to a more standardized digital listings format, similar to the one launched in Los Angeles last October. While she wouldn’t comment on specific personnel matters, she said columnists such as media critic Robert Feder will likely not be part of Time Out Chicago going forward. Feder could not be immediately reached for comment.

Crain’s Shia Kapos had an item on Feder, specifically:

“With the sale of Time Out Chicago, I have agreed to accept a buyout of my contract,” he said in an email and on his Facebook page. “I am eager to continue my work and I expect to make an announcement soon. Until then, I’ll keep you posted on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks so much for reading me!”

He tells me he can’t talk about what’s next — yet.

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