There's an interesting conspiracy theory out there, courtesy of former Chi-Town Daily head Geoff Dougherty, who tells media watchdog Jim Romenesko that the reason the MacArthur Foundation declined to continue funding Chicago News Cooperative is that CNC was writing stories that were too critical of CPS and CHA. There are several City Hall connected folks on the MacArthur board. You get the idea. Both CNC and MacArthur have denied there's anything to the story, and thus far neither Dougherty nor anyone else has provided any real evidence that MacArthur had problems with CNC's coverage or defunded CNC over it.
There are at least three things worth noting, however, beyond the inherent delights of contemplating a new conspiracy. First off, many readers here will be surprised to realize that anyone thinks CNC's coverage has been all that hard-hitting. Indeed, the complaint is often made that there are too many connections between CNC and reformers for anyone's comfort. But that indeed is the impression many have - that CNC held the Board's feet to the fire, dug up embarrassing information, and was anything but a soft touch for CPS.
Second, there's something extremely unsatisfying about the CNC explanation of the circumstances that led to its demise, which basically boil down to a decision by the New York Times not to pay more for the coverage it was receiving from CNC and a decision by MacArthur not to keep funding CNC because of questions about CNC's tax status. Yes, it's tax status. That seems like something that could have been worked out had there been a strong desire to do so.
Last but not least, for everyone who thinks that being white and middle aged and wearing a suit and tie means that you can snap your fingers and supporters will line up to fund your efforts, CNC's failure to find willing funders is a counterexample worth considering. None of Chicago's fat cats stepped up to save CNC, despite all the Tribune connections CNC senior management has.