The modern paper grew out of the 1948 merger of the Chicago Sun, founded in 1941 by Marshall Field III, and the Chicago Daily Times. Before Rupert Murdoch, the newspaper was for a time owned by Field Enterprises, controlled by the Marshall Field family, who also owned WFLD channel 32 since its inception in 1966. During the Field period, the newspaper had a populist, progressive character that leaned Democratic but was independent of the city's Democratic establishment. Although the graphic style was urban tabloid, the paper was well-regarded for journalistic quality and did not rely on sensational front-page stories. It typically ran articles from the Washington Post/Los Angeles Times wire service.
In 1984, Field sold the paper to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, and the paper's style changed abruptly toward that of its suitemate New York Post. Its front pages tended more to the sensational and its political stance shifted toward the conservative. This was in the era that the traditional Republican bulwark, the Chicago Tribune, was softening its positions, ending the city's clear division between the two newspapers' politics. This shift was made all but official when the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Mike Royko defected to the Tribune.
However, on July 10, 2007 new editorial page editor Cheryl Reed announced: "We [the Chicago Sun-Times editorial page] are returning to our liberal, working-class roots, a position that pits us squarely opposite the Chicago Tribune —- that Republican, George Bush-touting paper over on moneyed Michigan Avenue.
After Murdoch sold the paper (to buy its former sister television station WFLD to launch the Fox network) the Sun-Times was acquired by Hollinger International, controlled, indirectly, by Canadian-born businessman Conrad Black. After Black and his associate David Radler were indicted for skimming money from Hollinger International, through retaining noncompete payments from the sale of Hollinger newspapers, they were removed from the board, and Hollinger International was renamed the Sun-Times Media Group.
In 2004, the Sun-Times was censured by the Audit Bureau of Circulations for misrepresenting its circulation figures.
In January 2004, after a six-month investigation, the paper broke the story of the Hired Truck Program scandal, led by Tim Novak.
After a Sun-Times article by Michael Sneed erroneously identified the perpetrator of the April 16 2007 Virginia Tech massacre as an unnamed Chinese national, the People's Republic of China criticized the Chicago Sun-Times for publishing what it called "irresponsible reports". The newspaper later silently withdrew the story without making any apologies or excuses.
The newspaper gave a start in journalism to columnist Bob Greene. Current Sun-Times writers of note include Richard Roeper, Mary Mitchell, Michael Sneed, Mark Brown, Cathleen Falsani, Zay N. Smith, Neil Steinberg, Rick Telander, Hedy Weiss, Carol Marin, Jim DeRogatis, and Andy Ihnatko. Lynn Sweet is the Washington Bureau Chief.