Yusef Jackson, son of Rev. Jesse Jackson, has shown an interestin the media industry with his recent bid for prominent Chicagonewspaper, the Chicago Sun-Times. Jackson, president ofRiver North Sales and Service, bid for the paper with billionaireRonald Burkle, whose Los Angeles investment firm once controlledDominick’s Finer Foods Inc. Although Chicago-based HollingerInternational Inc. owns more than 90 local publications, Jackson’sbid only extends to the Sun-Times; Hollinger owns more than150 newspapers around the world. The amount of Jackson’s bidremains unknown but the estimated value of the Sun-Times is$440 million.
Although Jackson’s is not the only bid, a Hollinger official didconfirm that Jackson’s bid will be among those considered afterMarch 23, which is the deadline for final bids for Hollinger’spapers. Other bids for the Sun-Times come from Gannett Co.,the Blackstone Group and Madison-Dearborn Partners LLC. A mediaconsultant to the Jackson family asserted to Steven Strahler ofChicagobusiness.com, “Yusef has wanted to make his mark for a longtime. It would throw him right in the center of the Chicago mediamainstream.” Jackson’s interest in the paper has led industryinsiders to speculate about a possible conflict of interest in thecoverage of the Jackson family. Moreover, Jackson’s father, Rev.Jesse Jackson, writes a column for the Sun-Times. L. MichaelFlanagan, Chicago native and former intern with Congressman JesseJackson, Jr., disagrees with the possible conflict of interest.”I’m sure that Mr. Jackson is aware that he would have to beobjective and not allow his families influence in the city affecthis work as the owner of the paper.”
The Chicago Sun-Times is the13th largest paper in the U.S. with a weekly circulationof 482,000. The Sun-Times is Chicago’s No. 2 daily paperbehind the Chicago Tribune. The Sun-Times also holds the13th position among the top 100 daily newspapers in theU.S. If Jackson wins his bid for the Sun-Times this could bea major gain for the African American media industry in Chicago andabroad. Considering that Chicago has had a longstanding problemwith racism and segregation it would be refreshing to have anAfrican American be at the helm of one of the largest papers in thecountry,” says Flanagan.
“How many Blacks own publications of thiscaliber?” questions Jason Dunbar a senior journalism major from NewJersey. “From an entrepreneurial standpoint I think we should own alot more major publications. If Jackson became owner of theSun-Times it would provide a platform for the Blackcommunity. He would be in a position to bring about change locallyand nationally.”