Tribune Publishing Company (formerly Tronc, Inc.) is an American newspaper
print and online media publishing company
incorporated under Delaware
's General Corporation Law
and based in Chicago, Illinois
. The company's portfolio includes the ''Chicago Tribune
'', the ''New York Daily News
'', ''The Baltimore Sun
'', the ''Orlando Sentinel
'', South Florida's ''Sun-Sentinel
'', ''The Virginian-Pilot
'', the ''Hartford Courant
'', additional titles in Pennsylvania and Virginia, syndication operations, and websites. It also publishes several local newspapers in its metropolitan regions, which are organized in subsidiary groups. It is the nation's third-largest newspaper publisher (behind Gannett
and The McClatchy Company
), with eleven daily newspapers and commuter tabloids
throughout the United States.
Incorporated in 1847 with the founding of the ''Chicago Tribune'', Tribune Publishing operated as a division of the Tribune Company
, a Chicago-based multimedia conglomerate, until it was spun off
into a separate public company in August 2014.
The company as of April 2021 has received rival bids to be acquired. The first came from hedge fund Alden Global Capital
. In December 2019, Alden acquired a 32% stake in shares of Tribune Publishing Company.
In February 2021, the company announced that it had agreed to be wholly acquired by Alden Global Capital
. Alden is known for aggressive cost-cutting in companies it acquires. Then, in early April 2021, Tribune Publishing announced that it has entered into serious discussions with an alternative pair of suitors for an amount higher than its deal with Alden. The new bidders are Stewart W. Bainum Jr.
and Hansjörg Wyss
through their newly-formed company called Newslight.
Tribune Publishing's history dates back to 1847, when the ''Chicago Tribune
'' (for which the company and its former parent, Tribune Media, are named) published its first edition on June 10 of that year, in a one-room plant at LaSalle
Streets in Chicago.
The ''Tribune'' constructed its first building, a four-story structure at Dearborn and Madison
Streets, in 1869; however the building was destroyed, along with most of the city, by the Great Chicago Fire
in October 1871. The ''Tribune'' resumed printing two days later with an editorial declaring "Chicago Shall Rise Again". The newspaper's editor and part-owner, Joseph Medill
, was elected mayor and led the city's reconstruction. A native Ohio
an who first acquired an interest in the ''Tribune'' in 1855, Medill gained full control of the newspaper in 1874 and ran it until his death in 1899.
Medill's two grandsons, cousins Robert R. McCormick
and Joseph Medill Patterson
, assumed leadership of the company in 1911. That same year, the ''Chicago Tribune''s first newsprint mill opened in Thorold
. The mill marked the beginnings of the Canadian newsprint producer later known as QUNO, in which Tribune held an investment interest until 1995. The Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate
was formed in 1918, leading to Joseph Patterson's establishment of the company's second newspaper, the ''New York Daily News
'' on June 26, 1919. Tribune's ownership of the New York City
tabloid was considered "interlocking" due to an agreement between McCormick and Patterson.
The company acquired the Fort Lauderdale-based ''Sun-Sentinel
'' newspaper in 1963; this was later followed by its purchase of the ''Orlando Sentinel
'' in 1965. In 1973, the company began sharing stories among 25 subscriber newspapers via the newly formed news service
, the Knight News Wire. By 1990, this service was known as Knight-Ridder/Tribune and provided graphics, photo, and news content to its member newspapers. KRT became McClatchy-Tribune Information Services, which is owned by the Tribune Company and McClatchy, when The McClatchy Company
purchased Knight-Ridder Inc.
[ Tribune later acquired the Newport News, Virginia-based ''Daily Press'' in 1986. In the wake of a dispute with some of its labor unions, the ''New York Daily News'' was sold to British businessman Robert Maxwell in 1991.] [
In June 2000, Tribune acquired the Los Angeles-based Times Mirror Company in a merger deal worth $8.3 billion, which was the largest acquisition in the history of the newspaper industry. The merger added seven daily newspapers to Tribune's portfolio, including the ''Los Angeles Times'', the Long Island-based ''Newsday'', ''The Baltimore Sun'', and the ''Hartford Courant''. Tribune Media Net, the national advertising sales organization of Tribune Publishing, was established in 2000 to take advantage of the company's expanded scale and scope.
Later in the decade, Tribune launched daily newspapers targeting urban commuters, including the ''Chicago Tribune'' ''RedEye'' edition in 2002, followed by an investment in ''AM New York'' one year later. In 2006, Tribune acquired the minority equity interest in ''AM New York'', giving it full ownership of the newspaper. The company sold both ''Newsday'' and ''AM New York'' to Cablevision Systems Corporation in 2008, with the sale of the latter paper closing on July 29 of that year.
Takeover by Sam Zell and bankruptcy
On April 2, 2007, Chicago-based investor Sam Zell announced plans to buy out the Tribune Company for $34.00 a share, totaling $8.2 billion,
[ with intentions to take the company private. The deal was approved by 97% of the company's shareholders on August 21, 2007. Privatization of the Tribune Company occurred on December 20, 2007, with Tribune's stock listing being terminated at the close of the trading day.
On December 8, 2008, faced with a high debt load totaling $13 billion, related to the company's leveraged buyout and subsequent privatization, and a sharp downturn in newspaper advertising revenue, Tribune filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in what was the largest bankruptcy in the history of the American media industry.] Company plans called for it to emerge from bankruptcy by May 31, 2010, [ but the company would end up in protracted bankruptcy proceedings for four years.
On July 13, 2012, the Tribune Company received approval of a reorganization plan to allow the company to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a Delaware bankruptcy court. Oaktree Capital Management, JPMorgan Chase and Angelo, Gordon & Co., which were the company's senior debt holders, assumed control of Tribune's properties upon the company's exit from bankruptcy on December 31, 2012.]
Spin-off of publishing unit
On February 26, 2013, Tribune reportedly hired investment firms Evercore Partners and J.P. Morgan & Co. to oversee the sale of its newspapers. On July 10, 2013, Tribune announced that it would split into two companies, spinning off its publishing division into the Tribune Publishing Company. Its broadcasting, digital media and other assets (including GraceNote) would remain with the Tribune Company.
On November 20, 2013, Tribune announced it would cut 700 jobs from its newspaper properties due to declining advertising revenues.
On June 17, 2014, in a presentation for lenders, Tribune revealed that it had set August 4 as the target date for its spin-off of Tribune Publishing. [ The split was finalized on the target date, with the publishing arm being spun out as Tribune Publishing Company, and its former parent company being renamed Tribune Media.]
Tribune Publishing acquired six suburban daily and 32 weekly newspapers in the Chicago Metropolitan Area in October 2014. These acquisitions were similar in strategy to earlier acquisitions in the state of Maryland, expanding its footprint in its eight "core markets."
On May 7, 2015, Tribune Publishing announced that it had reached a deal to acquire the ''San Diego Union-Tribune'' and its associated properties for $85 million, ending the paper's 146 years of private ownership. Following the completion of the acquisition, the ''Union-Tribune'' and the ''Los Angeles Times'' became part of a new operating entity known as the California News Group, led by ''Times'' publisher and CEO Timothy E. Ryan. The two California papers retained distinct operations, but sought a synergy with content sharing between them.
In April 2016, Gannett Company (which, much like Tribune, had spun out its broadcasting properties into a separate firm to focus on publishing assets) made an unsolicited bid to acquire Tribune Publishing for $12.25 per-share, or around $400 million. This deal was rejected by Tribune's shareholders in May 2016; in turn, Gannett increased its offer to around $15 per-share (around $800 million). On May 17, 2016, Tribune chairman Michael Ferro stated that he intended to make a bid to acquire Gannett instead.
On November 1, 2016, Gannett announced that it would no longer pursue its acquisition of Tronc.
On June 2, 2016, the company announced that it would rebrand itself as ''tronc'', short for "Tribune online content".
The rebranding took place on June 20, 2016. Tronc began trading on NASDAQ under the symbol TRNC. In June 2018, the Tribune Company announced that it would no longer be referred to as Tronc and would instead henceforth be called "Tribune Publishing."
At the time in 2016 that the company moved into calling itself ''tronc'', chief technology officer Malcolm CasSelle and chief digital officer Anne Vasquez announced to employees initiatives in content optimization, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and increasing the amount of video to 50% of all content by 2017, in an effort to increase reader engagement and ad revenue. The company also introduced a new slogan, ''From Pixels to Pulitzers''. The video announcement was derided in social and print media as full of buzzwords and lacking substance. On August 7, 2016, while criticising several aspects of a corporate restructuring that went along with the rebranding (for instance a shift of focus away from hard news towards usage maximization, which he perceived as undue), satirist John Oliver mocked this new name as "the sound an ejaculating elephant makes", and (ironically) "the sound of a stack of newspapers hitting a dumpster." ''The Verge'' said, "Sounds like a Millennial falling down the stairs."
On March 13, 2017, tronc announced that it would license Arc, the content management system of ''The Washington Post''.
On September 4, 2017, tronc announced that it had acquired the ''New York Daily News''. Having been established in 1919 by the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate, the Daily News had been owned by the Tribune Company before its sale to Robert Maxwell in 1991 and then to Mortimer Zuckerman in 1993. Tronc purchased the New York Daily News for $1 plus the assumption of its liabilities. On July 23, 2018, tronc announced massive layoffs at the paper, and ousted its editor in chief.
On February 7, 2018, tronc announced the sale of its California properties (''Los Angeles Times'', ''San Diego Union-Tribune'') to Patrick Soon-Shiong for $500 million, with the buyer also assuming of $90 million in pension liabilities. The sale closed on June 18 that year and Tribune Publishing announced at the time that it would no longer be referred to as ''tronc''. [
On June 19, 2018, it was reported that tronc would revert its name back to Tribune Publishing; this would be confirmed by the company in October of that year.
In July 2018 tronc moved their headquarters from Tribune Tower several blocks south to One Prudential Plaza.
In January 2019, Tribune announced that industry veteran Timothy P. Knight would succeed Justin Dearborn as CEO. Dearborn had served as CEO since 2016. The company's board of directors also elected former Congressman and chairman of the House Rules Committee David Dreier to succeed Dearborn as chairman.
In December 2019, Alden Global Capital, a New York City-based hedge fund, acquired a 32% stake in shares of Tribune Publishing Company.
In February 2020, Dreier and Knight stepped down as chairman and CEO, respectively. Knight was replaced by the chief financial officer, Terry Jimene
In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tribune Publishing closed a number of its papers' newsrooms, including those of: the New York Daily News, The Morning Call, the Orlando Sentinel, the Carroll County Times, the Capital Gazette and the Hartford Courant.
Tribune Publishing is in negotiations to be acquired. As of April 2021, it is in talks with two potential suitors.
The first acquisition offer came from hedge fund Alden Global Capital. Its deal would amount to a purchase price of $635 million. In December 2019, Alden acquired a 32% stake in shares of Tribune Publishing Company.
Most of its stake was purchased from Michael Ferro at $13 a share. Considering what it paid for other tranches, the average price Alden Global paid for its shares of Tribune Publishing stock is around $12.75. It is offering $17.25/share. In February 2021, Tribune Publishing announced that it had agreed to be wholly acquired by Alden Global Capital.
Then, in early April 2021, Tribune Publishing announced that it has entered into serious discussions with an alternative pair of suitors for an amount higher than its deal with Alden. The new bidders are Stewart W. Bainum Jr. and Hansjörg Wyss through their newly-formed company called Newslight. This deal would amount to an overall bid of $680 million, or $18.50/share. This contrasts to the $635 million offer from Alden Global. [
The Bainum/Wyss acquisition offer came about when Bainum's offer to purchase the ''Baltimore Sun'' from Alden Global Capital once it completed its acquisition of Tribune Publishing fell apart. The ''Baltimore Sun'' deal fell apart on March 12 when Bainum became convinced that Alden was smuggling extra costs and fees into its deal with him that violated what he thought he had agreed to. He had agreed to purchase the ''Sun'' for $65 million, along with payments on a transitional-services agreement. The transitional-services agreement would have involved payments from the Sun to Alden Global Capital for logistical aspects of running the business including its payroll and circulation departments and national and digital sales unit. Bainum believed he had negotiated a deal for two years of transitional services, with a 30-day exit clause. Instead, he was asked to commit to a five-year agreement with no possibility of an early exit. Bainum took umbrage and, instead, put together a competing bid to purchase the entirety of Tribune Publishing.
Poynter.org observed that fears about the potential Alden Global Capital acquisition may have obscured that staffing levels at Tribune Publishing's nine metropolitan newspapers fell 30.4% from 2019 to 2020. They write, "Employees and local readers are concerned that Alden would make deep cuts to Tribune if it bought the company. But it seems that’s already happening."]
* ''Chicago Tribune'' (Chicago, Illinois)
** ''Daily Southtown'' (Chicago, Illinois)
** ''Post-Tribune'' (Merrillville, Indiana)
** ''Naperville Sun'' (Naperville, Illinois)
** ''Elgin Courier-News'' (Elgin, Illinois)
** ''The Beacon-News'' (Aurora, Illinois)
** ''Lake County News-Sun'' (Gurnee, Illinois)
** ''Pioneer Press''
* ''The Capital fka Capital Gazette'' (Annapolis, Maryland)
** ''Maryland Gazette''
** ''Bowie Blade'' (Bowie, Maryland)
** ''Crofton-West County Gazette'' (Crofton, Maryland)
* ''Baltimore Sun'' (Baltimore, Maryland)
** ''Carroll County Times'' (Westminster, Maryland)
* ''Sun-Sentinel'' (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
** ''Boca Times'' (Boca Raton, Florida; Highland Beach, Florida)
** ''El Sentinel del Sur de la Florida'' (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
** ''Florida Jewish Journal''
** ''Delray Sun'' (Delray Beach, Florida; Gulf Stream, Florida)
** ''Gateway Gazette'' (Boynton Beach, Florida; Lantana, Florida; Hypoluxo, Florida; Atlantis, Florida; South Palm Beach, Florida; Ocean Ridge, Florida; Manalapan, Florida; Briny Breezes, Florida)
** ''Glades Gazette'' (Miramar, Florida; Pembroke Pines, Florida; Weston, Florida; Southwest Ranches, Florida)
** ''Pier Review'' (Deerfield Beach, Florida; Pompano Beach, Florida; Lighthouse Point, Florida; Hillsboro Beach, Florida)
** ''Riverside Times'' (Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Oakland Park, Florida; Wilton Manors, Florida; Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida; Sea Ranch Lakes, Florida)
** ''Sawgrass Sun'' (Plantation, Florida; Sunrise, Florida; Lauderhill, Florida; Tamarac, Florida; North Lauderdale, Florida; Lauderdale Lakes, Florida)
** ''The Forum'' (Coral Springs, Florida; Coconut Creek, Florida; Margate, Florida; North Lauderdale, Florida; Parkland, Florida)
** ''The Trailblazer'' (Davie, Florida; Cooper City, Florida; Southwest Ranches, Florida)
** ''The Villager'' (Wellington, Florida; Royal Palm Beach, Florida; Greenacres, Florida; Loxahatchee Groves, Florida; Westlake, Florida; The Acreage, Florida)
** ''West Boca Times'' (west Boca Raton, Florida)
* ''Orlando Sentinel'' (Orlando, Florida)
** ''El Sentinel'' (Orlando, Florida)
* ''The Virginian-Pilot'' (Norfolk, Virginia)
** ''Inside Business'' (Norfolk, Virginia)
** ''Style Weekly'' (Richmond, Virginia)
' (Norfolk, Virginia)
* ''The Hartford Courant'' (Hartford, Connecticut)
* ''The Morning Call'' (Allentown, Pennsylvania)
* ''Daily Press'' (Newport News, Virginia)
** ''The Virginia Gazette'' (Williamsburg, Virginia)
** ''The Tidewater Review''
* ''New York Daily News'' (New York, New York)
* ''RedEye'' (Chicago, Illinois)
* ''Tribune News Service''
* ''City & Shore Magazine''
* ''Chicago Magazine''
* ''Hartford Magazine''
* ''Naperville Magazine''
* ''Polo Equestrian of the Palm Beaches''
* ''Prime Magazine''
* ''South Florida Parenting''
* ''Williamsburg Magazine''
* The Daily Meal
* The Active Times
* Military News
* Pro Soccer USA
* Tribune Content Agency
* ''AM New York'' (New York, New York; 2003–2008)
* ''Newsday'' (Melville, New York; 2000–2008)
** 8 community weeklies
*''Hoy'' (Los Angeles and San Diego (with an edition in north Baja California), California; 2000−2018)
* ''Los Angeles Times'' (Los Angeles, California; 2000–2018)
** ''Daily Pilot'' (Newport Beach, California)
** ''Burbank Leader'' (Burbank, California)
** ''Glendale News Press'' (Glendale, California)
** ''La Canada Valley Sun'' (La Canada Flintridge, California)
* ''San Diego Union-Tribune'' (San Diego, California; 2015–2018)
** 8 community weeklies
Category:Newspaper companies of the United States
Category:Newspaper companies in Chicago
Category:Companies based in Chicago
Category:Publishing companies established in 1847
Category:1847 establishments in Illinois
Category:Publishing companies established in 2014
Category:Companies listed on NASDAQ
Category:2014 establishments in Illinois
Category:American companies established in 2014
Category:Announced mergers and acquisitions