October 7, 2022

Good morning. Today, I offer up some recommendations for your weekend reading, watching and listening. But before that, a few media news updates.

First, what in the heck is going on with Twitter and Elon Musk?

The on-again, off-again sale of Twitter to Musk appeared to be back on again earlier this week when Musk said he would buy the company for the originally agreed-upon price of $54.20 a share, or $44 billion. But on Thursday, it seemed to be off again for a bit and then back on and now … who the heck knows?

Musk’s lawyers said early Thursday that Twitter is refusing to accept the deal and wanted Delaware court to postpone a trial set to begin later this month. Twitter is suing Musk for backing out of the deal he agreed to in April.

So let’s get this straight. Musk agreed to buy Twitter. Musk backed out. Twitter sued. Musk then agreed to the original deal, but now Twitter won’t accept it?


Then came word Thursday evening that the trial will indeed be delayed to give Musk more time to line up his financing.

The Wall Street Journal’s Cara Lombardo and Alexa Corse wrote, “The surprise ruling, granting a request by Mr. Musk, effectively ends negotiations for a settlement that would allow the parties to quickly close the deal. Mr. Musk now has until Oct. 28 to do so. Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick said if the deal doesn’t close by that date, the parties should contact her to schedule a November trial.”

Lombardo and Corse added, “Late Thursday, the dispute spilled into public view with Mr. Musk’s filing, which said he expected to have the financing in place to close the deal around Oct. 28. Twitter responded by calling his request an ‘invitation to further mischief and delay.’ Mr. Musk in his filing said the financing banks are working to fund the deal so it can close. He argued that proceeding with the litigation for now, as Twitter prefers, could keep the deal in limbo longer.”

CNN’s Clare Duffy wrote, “The back-and-forth offers the clearest indication yet that Musk’s financing may now be the central issue in the dispute between the Tesla CEO and Twitter over halting the legal proceedings and completing the deal. Musk has previously said he would pay for the acquisition through a mix of debt commitments from financial institutions, equity financing from investors and his own assets. But legal experts have raised concerns that debt financiers may now want to pull out of the deal in light of recent changes to the debt market and declines in value of social media companies. Twitter, according to experts, would likely want to maintain the litigation as pressure on Musk unless he agrees to close the deal with or without the debt financing.”

As they say in the business … stay tuned.

Chicago Sun-Times makes its content free to readers

For this item, I turn it over to Poynter media business analyst Rick Edmonds.

The Chicago Sun-Times dropped its paywall Thursday and made all content free to readers. The Sun-Times will shift to membership drives to gather financial support.

The moves come exactly a year after Chicago Public Media and its radio station WBEZ announced their intent to acquire the Sun-Times. The deal closed this January with $61 million in backing from foundations and individual donors.

The shift had been expected. Public broadcast outlets offer their content for free, as do most in the growing sector of nonprofit digital news startups. The nonprofit structure allows foundations and individuals to contribute tax-free, and Chicago Public Media brings long experience with managing membership and philanthropic sponsors.

“Our journalists care about your community because it’s our community, too,” The Sun-Times wrote in an editorial. “And we strongly believe that everyone in the Chicago area should have access to the news, features and investigations we produce, regardless of their ability to pay. … A membership program connects our revenue model more closely to how well we serve our community, holding us accountable to you, our readers. We think that’s a good thing, because if we’re not serving you, we’re not doing our jobs. So we’re taking a leap of faith and putting our trust in you.”

For free access, users are asked to provide an email address, which allows the Sun-Times to make pitches for support. The editorial also invites readers to submit story suggestions, describing “a moment that has made you feel especially proud of your community, or a moment that brought your community together.”

Chicago Public Media executives have said that details about merging the two newsrooms and their reports will come later as the two are fully integrated.

Jennifer Kho, who had earlier stints as an editor at HuffPost and The Guardian US, joined the Sun-Times as executive editor in June.

The Sun-Times, long the second paper in Chicago, had been through several ownership changes in recent years. Its rival, the Chicago Tribune, is the flagship of Tribune Publishing, which was acquired by hedge fund Alden Global Capital in summer 2021.

Dropping endorsements

One more media tidbit: Alden Global Capital — the second-largest newspaper publisher in the country with about 200 papers, including the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News and The Denver Post — will no longer endorse political candidates in its opinion pages.

The New York Times’ Katie Robertson broke the story.

Readers are expected to learn of the move in an editorial that could run in Alden papers as soon as today. According to a copy of the editorial acquired by Robertson, it will say, “Unfortunately, as the public discourse has become increasingly acrimonious, common ground has become a no man’s land between the clashing forces of the culture wars. At the same time, with misinformation and disinformation on the rise, readers are often confused, especially online, about the differences between news stories, opinion pieces and editorials.”

Newspapers have a long history of endorsing political candidates and many still do, although some have stopped the practice.

Meanwhile, Robertson writes, “Three Alden newspapers — The Baltimore Sun, The Chicago Tribune and The Denver Post — will be allowed to continue with their endorsements this season because of how far along in the process they are and because they are viewed as state newspapers of record, the person said. Those newspapers will announce after this election cycle that they will end the practice, according to the person with knowledge of the company’s plan.”

And now some recommended journalism for your weekend …

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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