Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien is putting $10 million into the Chicago Sun-Times owner’s Aggrego news service, which uses young, nonunion reporters to cover Chicago suburbs.
O’Brien, who founded cellular service firm Digicel Group in 2001, also has investments in radio, aircraft leasing, golf and other industries worldwide, reports Crain’s media reporter Lynne Marek. He’s said to be worth $5.2 billion.
While Aggrego currently has about 25 employees drumming up content mainly for [Chicago Sun-Times parent] Wrapports’ 40-some daily and weekly newspapers, it’s angling to provide its services to other companies as well.
Michael Miner, media critic for the Wrapports-owned Chicago Reader, has reported tension between Wrapports’ more experienced union reporters at the Pioneer Press community newspaper chain and the young Aggrego journalists.
What separates the Aggrego kids from the Pioneer Press veterans is simply that they’re younger, nonunion, and — in the eyes of the veterans — stealthily threatening their jobs. And, furthermore, they’re doing their work on behalf of a company that would rather be known as a digital start-up than a chain of newspapers.