So it's done. A federal bankruptcy judge spoke Thursday, and financier James Tyree and the local businessmen in his investment group will be taking over the dozens of newspaper titles that compose the Sun-Times Media Group.
Ideally, newspapers are owned by fabulously rich and reclusive idealists, men and women to whom profit is unimportant, who have no interest in doing their friends favors because truth is much dearer than friendship and they probably have no friends anyway. They do have causes, splendid causes, but they wouldn't dream of promoting them in the papers they control because that would only tarnish them. Their private lives are impeccable, their courage, when put to the test, astonishing.
Bruce Wayne would make a fine owner of the Sun-Times.
When we're getting instead — as I assume we'll see when the list of names of the STMG's new owners is made public — is a bunch of movers and shakers with so many axes to grind they could clear the redwood forests, men and women who believe that in snatching the media group from the jaws of liquidation they've demonstrated unusual virtue, and who, when push comes to shove, will expect the titles they believe they own to respect and advance their reputations.
The stockholder model is deeply flawed. The buccaneer model is likewise. Tyree is introducing a third mode of ownership. Good luck to him and Chicago.