For other uses, see Tronc (disambiguation).
"Tribune Publishing" redirects here. For the broadcast and digital media company, see Tribune Media.
tronc, Inc.
Traded as NASDAQ: TRNC
Industry Newspapers and commuter tabloids
Genre Publishing
Founded June 10, 1847 (1847-06-10)
(original foundation, as the Chicago Daily Tribune)
August 4, 2014 (2014-08-04)
(as Tribune Publishing Company)
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois, United States
Key people
Justin C. Dearborn
Parent Tribune Company (1861–2014)[1]
Independent (2014–present)

tronc, Inc. (formerly Tribune Publishing) is an American newspaper print and online media publishing company based in Chicago, Illinois. Among other publications, the company's portfolio includes the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Orlando Sentinel, (Central Florida) Sun-Sentinel, The Baltimore Sun, (Allentown, Pennsylvania) The Morning Call, Hartford Courant, and the San Diego Union-Tribune. It also publishes several local newspapers in these metropolitan regions, which are organized in subsidiary groups. It is the nation's third-largest newspaper publisher (behind Gannett, and The McClatchy Company), with ten daily newspapers and commuter tabloids located throughout the United States.

Originally incorporated in 1847 with the founding of the Chicago Tribune, Tribune Publishing formerly 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.

On June 20, 2016, the company adopted the name tronc, short for "Tribune online content".[2]


Early history

tronc'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 located at LaSalle and Lake Streets in Chicago.[3] 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 Ohioan 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, Ontario, Canada. 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.

Growth and acquisitions

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 jointly owned by the Tribune Company and McClatchy, when The McClatchy Company purchased Knight-Ridder Inc. in 2006.[4] 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.[3]

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.[5] 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's 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.[6]

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,[7] with intentions to take the company private. The deal was approved by 97% of the company's shareholders on August 21, 2007.[8] Privatization of the Tribune Company occurred on December 20, 2007 with Tribune's stock listing being terminated at the close of the trading day.[9]

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.[7][10] Company plans originally called for it to emerge from bankruptcy by May 31, 2010,[11] 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.[12][13]

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.[14] On July 10, 2013, Tribune announced that it would split into two companies, spinning off the newspapers that are part of its publishing division into the Tribune Publishing Company. Its broadcasting, digital media and other assets (including Tribune Media Services, which among others, provides news and features content for Tribune's newspapers) would remain with the Tribune Company.[15] On November 20, 2013, Tribune announced it would cut 700 jobs from its newspaper properties due to declining advertising revenues.[16]

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.[17][18][19] The split was finalized on the target date, with the publishing arm being spun out as Tribune Publishing Co., and its former parent company being renamed Tribune Media.[20][21][22]

Post spin-off

Tribune Publishing acquired 6 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."[23]

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 current Times publisher and CEO Timothy E. Ryan. The two papers will retain distinct operations, but there will be a larger amount of synergy and content sharing between them. The acquisition did not include the paper's headquarters, which remains owned by the paper's previous owner, Doug Manchester.[24][25]

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 CEO Michael Ferro stated that he intended to make a bid to acquire Gannett instead.[26][27][28]

On November 1, 2016, Gannett announced that it would no longer persue its acquisition of Tronc.[29]

tronc era

On June 2, 2016, the company announced that it would rebrand itself as tronc, short for "Tribune online content".[2] The rebranding took place on June 20, 2016. tronc began trading on NASDAQ under the symbol TRNC.[30]

That day, 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.[31] The company also introduced a new slogan, From Pixels to Pulitzers. The video announcement was widely derided in social and print media as full of buzzwords and lacking content.[32][33][34]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".[35]


Current properties


Commuter tabloids


Former newspapers



  1. "Tribune Publishing - Tribune Publishing History". Archived from the original on 2016-05-04. Retrieved 2016-07-13.
  2. 1 2 "Tribune Publishing Announces Corporate Rebranding, Changes Name to tronc" (Press release). Tribune Publishing Company. June 2, 2016. Retrieved June 2, 2016.
  3. 1 2 "Tribune Company". (International Directory of Company Histories). The Gale Group, Inc. 2006. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  4. Seelye, Katharine Q.; Sorkin, Andrew Ross (2006-03-13). "Newspaper Chain Agrees to a Sale for $4.5 Billion". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2014-08-11.
  5. "Tribune called on to sell L.A. Times". CNN Money. September 18, 2006. Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
  6. "Cablevision Completes Newsday Buy from Tribune.". Broadcasting and Cable (Press release). 2008-04-28. Archived from the original on 2011-05-20. Retrieved 2007-12-21. Tribune Completes Acquisition of Real Estate from TMCT Partnership.
  7. 1 2 David Carr (October 5, 2010). "At Flagging Tribune, Tales of a Bankrupt Culture". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2014-08-05. Retrieved 2010-10-06. Less than a year after Mr. Zell bought the company, it tipped into bankruptcy, listing $7.6 billion in assets against a debt of $13 billion, making it the largest bankruptcy in the history of the American media industry.
  8. Desiree J. Hanford (2007-08-21). "Tribune Shareholders Back Zell's Takeover". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-21. At a special shareholder meeting held in the building that The Chicago Tribune calls home, the deal won support from 97 percent of votes cast...
  9. Dave Carpenter (2007-12-21). "Tribune buyout, at $8.2 billion, closes in Chicago". The News Journal. Wilmington, DE. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2007-12-23. Retrieved 2007-12-21. Tribune Co.'s $8.2 billion buyout closed Thursday [December 20, 2007] after an 8½-month wait to secure final approval and financing, taking the ailing newspaper and TV company private under the control of real estate billionaire Sam Zell. At closing, former Clear Channel CEO Randy Michaels was named CEO of Interactive and Broadcasting. Michaels also oversees most of the Tribune papers.
  10. Tribune files for bankruptcy Chicago Breaking News. Retrieved December 8, 2008.
  11. Julie Johnsson, Michael Oneal (2009-11-14). "Tribune asks court for extension : The Times' owner wants four additional months to plan its exit from bankruptcy without interference". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2012-06-23. Retrieved 2014-08-11.
  12. "Bankruptcy-Exit Plan Gets OK". TVNewsCheck (via the Associated Press). July 13, 2012.
  13. Channick, Robert (December 30, 2012). "Tribune Co. to emerge from bankruptcy Monday". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  14. Meehan, Sarah (February 26, 2013). "Baltimore Sun owner Tribune to begin selling newspaper assets, report says". Baltimore Business Journal. Retrieved February 26, 2013.
  15. "Tribune Co. to Split in Two". New York Times. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
  16. "Tribune Co. Cutting 700 Newspaper Jobs Amid Dropping Advertising Revenues". Forbes. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
  17. Channick, Robert. "Tribune Publishing targets Aug. 4 for spinoff". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  18. Haughneyaug, Christine (2014-08-04). "A News Giant Going It Alone: Newspaper Spinoff to Create Tribune Publishing". New York Times. p. B1. Archived from the original on 2014-08-07. Retrieved 2014-08-11. Tribune Publishing will be born in a punishing print environment, but it will start off with $350 million in debt, of which $275 million will pay a one-time cash dividend to Tribune’s shareholders. That falls far short of the enviable $2 billion cash cushion Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation gave its print division last year, but far better than the $1.3 billion in debt that Time Inc. started with when it was spun off in June.
  19. Carr, David (2014-08-11). "Print Is Down, and Now Out: Media Companies Spin Off Newspapers, to Uncertain Futures". New York Times. p. B1. Archived from the original on 2014-08-11. Turns out, not so much — quite the opposite, really. The Washington Post seems fine, but recently, in just over a week, three of the biggest players in American newspapers — Gannett, Tribune Company and E. W. Scripps, companies built on print franchises that expanded into television — dumped those properties like yesterday’s news in a series of spinoffs.
  20. "Tribune Co. completes split of print, broadcasting businesses, following trend". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  21. Channick, Robert. "Tribune Publishing targets Aug. 4 for spinoff". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  22. Marek, Lynne. "Revealed: Tribune Co.'s new name". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  23. Channick, Robert (October 31, 2015). "Tribune Publishing completes purchase of Sun-Times suburban properties". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  24. "$85M deal to combine U-T, LA Times". Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  25. "L.A. Times parent to buy San Diego paper, expanding reach in Southern California". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  26. "Gannett and Tribune Publishing execs trade barbs as takeover battle heats up". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  27. "Tribune Publishing shares surge after Gannett launches takeover bid". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  28. Doctor, Ken. "Tribune chair: Sell to Gannett? We'll buy Gannett!". Politico. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  29. "Gannett Ends Talks to Acquire Los Angeles Times Owner". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  30. "Tronc Begins Trading on Nasdaq, Joins Leading Tech Firms - Business Wire". Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  31. "Here's What That New Tronc Video Is Actually Saying". Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  32. Coldewey, Devin. "A tronc is born". Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  33. Weissmann, Jordan (20 June 2016). "The Future of Journalism Is a Deadly Swarm of Buzzwords, According to Tronc". Retrieved 12 August 2016 via Slate.
  34. "Early reviews of Tronc's branding video are in, and they're not good". 20 June 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  35. LastWeekTonight (7 August 2016). "Journalism: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)". Retrieved 12 August 2016 via YouTube.

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