Tribune buys out McClatchy’s stake in MCT newswire

Tribune Publishing “will take full ownership” of McClatchy Tribune Information Services” and its operations will move to Chicago, McClatchy vice president for news and Washington editor Anders Gyllenhaal tells staffers in a memo. “MCT will consolidate editorial and business staffs in Chicago and merge with the Tribune Content Agency, creating a single business out of the two related operations,” he writes.

“A portion of the jobs based in Washington will be part of the ongoing wire service or remain with the bureau. But a majority of the Washington positions will be phased out over the course of the summer as the move to Chicago is complete,” Gyllenhaal writes.

In a press release, Tribune said “MCT products and services will become part of the offerings of Tribune Content Agency.”

McClatchy’s D.C. staff was due to meet at 11:45 today. “The MCT changes don’t have any impact on the bureau,” Gyllenhaal writes in an email to Poynter. “Also, McClatchy’s connections the wire service remain much the same: we’re contributors, we work closely with the service and we’re the largest client. We’re no longer an owner, and instead become a preferred customer.”

McClatchy has shed several assets in recent months. It sold its stake in Classified Ventures’ Apartments.com for $147 million on April 1 and agreed to sell the Anchorage Daily News on April 8. Meanwhile, Tribune’s publishing arm has been on an acquisition spree of late — its Baltimore Sun Media Group recently agreed to purchase papers in Maryland, and the Hartford Courant agreed in March to purchase a publisher of weekly papers in Connecticut.

Tribune Co. plans to split its newspaper and broadcasting properties. It “expects acquisitions to be ‘an important component of our business strategy,’” Dean Starkman reported Wednesday.

Memo follows:

This morning, we’re announcing significant changes to the partnership that operates McClatchy Tribune Information Services. After months of discussions on how to position the wire service for the future, the companies decided that Tribune Publishing will take full ownership of MCT while McClatchy becomes a preferred customer.

As part of the changes, MCT will consolidate editorial and business staffs in Chicago and merge with the Tribune Content Agency, creating a single business out of the two related operations. A portion of the jobs based in Washington will be part of the ongoing wire service or remain with the bureau. But a majority of the Washington positions will be phased out over the course of the summer as the move to Chicago is complete.

For some time, McClatchy and Tribune have been exploring options for how to continue the wire service in the midst of industry changes and difficult finances. This course will give MCT the flexibility it needs while preserving the flow of content from both companies that have made this the nation’s largest supplemental wire service.

This will not be an easy transition. But it will preserve an important institution that serves 1,200 customers around the world, built on the work of 600 contributors. The Tribune’s new role makes sense on a number of fronts. The company has a long history in syndication. There are also clear advantages in operating MCT’s editorial and business staffs – which have been divided for years – side by side.

Disclosure: Poynter has a training partnership with McClatchy.

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  • Linda Epstein

    Everyone at MCT lost their job. Tribune hired a few with bot specialties to stay on, possibly work from home in DC. Some jobs will open in Chicago that DC staff can apply for but no relocation pay. The McClatchy Washington Bureau will have 2 openings now- an IT person and a visual editor to fill positions lost by the demise of MCT. 40 jobs were lost in this action.

  • http://dataanxiety.tumblr.com/ Ellie K

    This is a tragedy. The press is essential.
    The Tribune? Sigh… Mr. Zell.
    I loved the Philadelphia Inquirer and San Francisco Chronicle.