Articles about "Tribune Co."


Tribune wants to buy more newspapers

Crain’s Chicago Business

Tribune Publishing CEO Jack Griffin wants to buy “smaller newspapers in or near his existing markets,” Lynne Marek reports.

“We think there are more of these opportunities around the country that are geographically adjacent to where we run big papers and big brands, and that over time we can achieve similar kinds of consolidation and acquisition opportunities that are going to add meaningfully to our footprint and our revenue and our profit,” Griffin told Marek.

In the past year, Tribune’s Baltimore Sun Media Group has purchased Baltimore City Paper and two smaller Maryland papers, The Capital in Annapolis and the Carroll County Times.

Griffin also told Marek that cutting costs to adapt to lower revenue is “an absolute requirement of the business.” Tribune Publishing’s spinoff from Tribune Co. is scheduled for Aug. 4. Read more

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Earns Gannett

Circulation revenue rises at Gannett’s local papers

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 (OK, perhaps slightly more than 10) media stories.

  1. Gannett had a good second quarter: Broadcast revenue was “almost 88 percent higher in the quarter compared to the second quarter last year.” Publishing advertising revenue fell about 5 percent; circulation was roughly flat, and “At local domestic publishing sites, home delivery circulation revenue was up in the quarter due, in part, to strategic pricing actions associated with enhanced content.” (Gannett)
  2. Washington Post fights the “wonk wars”: The Washington Post’s new “Storyline” project is “dedicated to the power of stories to help us understand complicated, critical things,” Editor Jim Tankersley writes. (The Washington Post) | Michael Calderone takes a look: “It’s unlikely The Post would’ve launched a project like Storyline a few years ago.” (HuffPost) | Tankersley writes that as a college student he was inspired by Richard Read‘s 1998 series about french fries: “Those stories brought the crisis home in a way no textbook or straight news piece could, because at each step, they showed how global trends touched people’s lives and livelihoods.” (The Oregonian)
  3. Why corrupt politicians should avoid Vermont: Vermont has the best-covered legislature in the country, and California has the worst, Pew finds. It takes another view of its data on statehouse reporters, looking at the relationship between the number of reporters and states’ population. (Pew) | “Yes, most national news sites have had to slim down but they remain major behemoths in terms of staff. Regional and local news organizations have been hit far harder, meaning that the at-the-roots level coverage of politicians and policies is significantly restricted if not nonexistent.” (The Washington Post)
  4. Press secretary lectures reporters on anonymous sources: White House press secretary Josh Earnest complained about the sourcing of a Washington Post story. (The Daily Caller) | The “criticism doesn’t make sense,” Post national editor Cameron Barr says. “We are sometimes compelled to rely on background sources with knowledge of internal deliberations – that is one of the best means available to hold the administration and other powerful institutions to account.” (Poynter) | “This is rich.” (Politico) | “Two reporters pointed out the White House is hosting its own anonymous call Monday afternoon on a job-training report.” (Business Insider) | “What Earnest knows so well is that competitive Beltway reporters will continue participating in those accountability-defying background briefings, even though the White House press secretary is on record as questioning their utility.” (The Washington Post)
  5. Jill Abramson sought friendly press: Women reporters have shown an “absurd display of credulity and clubbiness” while interviewing the former NYT executive editor, Liz Spayd writes. (CJR) | Very slightly related: Here’s Abramson talking about traffic safety. (The Village Voice)
  6. Analyst says Tribune’s newspapers are worth $635 million: That’s “less than 10 percent of Tribune Co.’s total valuation,” Robert Channick reports. (Chicago Tribune)
  7. “I regret wasting time thinking I wasn’t good enough”: Advice for young journalists of color from Cord Jefferson, Anna Holmes, Jenna Wortham, Wesley Lowery and others. (BuzzFeed)
  8. There’s money in events: Functions put on by AtlanticLive, the company’s events business, “now account for close to one-fifth of the Atlantic’s overall revenue.” (DigiDay) | Recently: NPR’s Margaret Low Smith will run AtlanticLive. (Poynter)
  9. Here’s today’s world news, edited by Kristen Hare: Colin Brazier, the Sky News reporter who pulled items out of a suitcase from the MH17 crash while on air, apologized in a column in The Guardian on Tuesday. | Journalists lives are in danger while covering Gaza, Reporters Without Borders wrote Tuesday. Two Palestinian journalists have been killed and four injured so far. | International News Safety Institute reported Monday that “Ukraine was the most dangerous country for journalists” in the first half of the year. So far, seven members of the media have been killed. | Here’s the front page of The West Australian, from Perth, Australia, courtesy Newseum:

    AUS_WA

  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Andy Wright is the new publisher of The New York Times Magazine. | Janet Mock has been named a contributing editor to Marie Claire. She’s the author of New York Times bestseller Redefining Realness, and a former staff editor at People. (@janetmock) | Garrett Graff has joined Politico Magazine as a senior staff writer. Formerly, he was editor-in-chief of The Washingtonian. (Politico) | Slate moves: Dan Kois is now culture editor at Slate. (@juliaturner) John Swansburg is deputy editor, Josh Levin is executive editor. (Muck Rack) | Katie Nelson will be national editor at the Huffington Post. Previously, she was deputy managing editor for digital at the New York Daily News. (@Joy_Resmovits) | Zach Pagano has joined KRDO in Colorado Springs, Colorado as a multimedia journalist. Formerly, he was an anchor at KCWY in Casper, Wyoming. (Zach Pagano) | Jon Skorburg will be vice president and general manager at WOI in Des Moines, Iowa. Formerly, he was vice president and general manager at WQRF in Rockford, Illinois. (Mediabistro) | Margaret Schmidt has been named editor of The Jersey Journal. Formerly, she was managing editor of the paper. (The Jersey Journal) Job alert: California’s KQEDis looking for interns to start in September. Get your résumés in! | Send Ben your job moves:bmullin@poynter.org.

Suggestions? Criticisms? Would like me to send you this roundup each morning? Please email me: abeaujon@poynter.org. Read more

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AP-US-Rupert-Murdoch-Divorce

Rupert Murdoch bids on Time Warner

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories. Read more

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Polk Awards

Did the government throw shade on latest Greenwald scoop?

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories. Also, from Sam Kirkland, your digital morning stuff, and from Kristen Hare, a look at journalism outside the U.S.

  1. Did the government try to stink up Glenn Greenwald’s latest story? The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s national president, Samer Khalaf, says “It wasn’t that they were saying it was false. They were saying they can’t respond to a story that wasn’t out yet.” (The Washington Post) | The Intercept “began hearing about Justice Department officials attempting to discredit our story long before that [ADC] meeting took place.” (The Intercept) | Related: Bart Gellman answers objections to his latest NSA story, which he wrote with Julie Tate and Ashkan Soltani. (The Washington Post)
  2. Remembering John Seigenthaler, who died Friday: The Tennessean’s package | Former Poynter President Karen Dunlap remembers Seigenthaler. (Poynter) | Poynter will have some more Seigenthaler stuff today.
  3. “You made us proud”: English-language paper in Argentina does defeat well. (Poynter) | North Korea is not telling its people it made the World Cup Final (BuzzFeed) | Sort-of related: The New York Times’ fantastic Saturday sports section front (Deadspin)
  4. New York University is offering a course in videogame journalism: Pulitzers have gone to other areas of cultural coverage, and “History shows that the category does grow and change with the times,” Sig Gissler says. (CJR)
  5. Kent State j-prof seeks hellraisers: “Please, if you can identify a director of a school of journalism who is raising hell about the Obama Administration’s attack on whistleblowers who are so essential in a democracy, please let me know.” (When Journalism Fails)
  6. Michael Wolff on the News Corp./Tribune newspapers rumor: “Mostly, such rumors get started because Murdoch starts them himself.” (USA Today)
  7. 85 percent of USA Today’s stories never see a dead tree: “Reporters have to write 5- and 30-minute stories,” Publisher Larry Kramer tells Leslie Kaufman. (NYT)
  8. It’s just a minor threat? “Data journalism is a sort of journalistic punk of our times.” (EJO)
  9. Newspaper regrets cooking advice: You know that tip about marinating chicken in newspaper bags? Ignore it. (The Morning Call)
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Jeff Mason was elected president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. He is a White House correspondent for Reuters. (Talking Biz News) | Kevin Martinez will be the publisher of Maxim magazine. Previously, he was the publisher of Details. (New York Post) | Sarah Chassé is a copy editor at Reader’s Digest. She was previously a senior copy editor at Benchmark Education. (Mediabistro) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org

Suggestions? Criticisms? Would like me to send you this roundup each morning? Please email me: abeaujon@poynter.org. Read more

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Rupert Murdoch

News Corp. rumored to be putting together a new bid for Tribune newspapers

Rumor has it that News Corp — with a $2.5 billion cash kitty for acquisitions — may be mounting a new bid for the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the six other Tribune newspapers.

Rupert Murdoch and his company were first reported interested in the acquisition (in a story in the L.A. Times and elsewhere) when the papers were being shopped in late 2012 and early 2013.

No deal was struck, and last July Tribune announced that it would instead spin off the papers into a new publicly-traded company, Tribune Publishing. Tribune Publishing has recently hired a CEO and other staff, and the split is now scheduled to happen as soon as Aug. 4, but at least within the next several months.

I would not typically report a publishing rumor. This one could prove dead wrong. But a confidential tip that started this inquiry was more substantive than gossip on the street. Various circumstances would make such a deal logical for both buyer and seller.

Robert Willens, a New York-based corporate tax analyst who has previously commented on the spinoff plans, said in a phone interviews that a sale to News Corp would be plausible — but much more likely after the spinoff had been completed. In other words over the next year or two rather than in the next weeks or months.

Spokespersons for both Tribune and News Corp. declined to comment, citing corporate policies not to respond to sale rumors and speculation.  Gary Weitman of Tribune said the company is committed to completing the spinoff (effectively ruling out a sale before).

So why is there reason to think such a deal might happen, later if not sooner?

  • News Corp. is itself a spinoff publishing company, separated from its parent, now renamed 21st Century Fox, in June 2013.  It owns Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal as well Murdoch papers in Great Britain and Australia and the book publisher HarperCollins.
  • The new News Corp. came with a generous cash allocation of roughly $3 billion.  A company that size with that much free cash in hand is under investor pressure to make strategic acquisitions. News Corp. management has indicated it will. So far purchases include social media agency Storyful (in December 2013) and romance novel publisher Harlequin (announced in May), reducing available cash to about $2.5 billion.
  • Questioned by Capital New York in a brief interview at a social event in April, Murdoch said:

    News Corp. is in the first, sort of, transformational year….There’ll be some interesting deals.

    Potential acquisition targets, he added, would likely include both “print and web.”

  • Murdoch is a longtime reader of the Los Angeles Times and, according to a New York Times report, covets owing it.  A purchase, along with the Chicago Tribune, would give News Corp, leading print assets in the three biggest metro markets in the U.S.While the other six papers — The Baltimore Sun, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Orlando Sentinel, The Hartford Courant, The (Allentown, Pennsylvania) Morning Call and the (Newport News, Virginia) Daily Press — would hold less interest, News Corp. could operate them for a time then sell, as Murdoch did with a group of mid-sized dailies that came with the Dow Jones deal.
  • Recall that Murdoch is willing to pay top dollar for what he wants most.  In his successful 2007 bid for the Journal, he offered the Bancroft family, which controlled the majority of voting shares in Dow Jones, a price roughly 65 percent higher than the stock’s trading value.
  • Tribune Publishing has been valued at $623 million in a 2012 bankruptcy filing.  So it is not too big financially for News Corp. to swallow.
  • Unlike News Corp.with all its cash, Tribune Publishing is being spun off on less than generous terms.  The papers operate profitably but will be assuming $350 million in debt and required to pay rent for its offices to Tribune Company.  And the parent is keeping all the proceeds of the sale of a profitable digital ad site with a second up for sale.

Congressman Henry Waxman, who represents a Los Angeles district, has claimed that the deal terms are setting the newspapers for failure. A well-capitalized buyer could be an attractive alternative.

Tribune’s own announcement and commentary on the deal have highlighted that the publishing assets can be transferred to the new company tax-free.  By contrast, direct sales of all or some of the papers out of the existing Tribune Company would come with a tax liability of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Besides the financial implications, tax consequences are a particularly sensitive consideration at Tribune, which is still sorting out a $200-million plus claim by the IRS related to its sale of Newsday in 2008.

If News Corp were to mount a bid after the spinoff, how soon could that happen? My sense is that a public company cannot be flipped like a real estate asset. Tax analyst Willens told me there is no statutory requirement to wait for a given period, but “if a plan had been agreed to or substantially negotiated” before completion of the spinoff, he said, “that could render it taxable.”

In the earlier attempt to acquire some or all of the Tribune papers, Murdoch faced a deal-killing regulatory barrier.  Under Federal Communications Commission rules, his company could not acquire a paper in Los Angeles or other markets where his Fox News owned local stations.

While Murdoch and other publishers have long tried to get a waiver or repeal of the rule, he told a reporter at the 2013 Golden Globes awards, “it won’t get through with the Democratic administration in place.”

But that was before News Corp’s own corporate split.  Now with newspaper holdings in the publishing spinoff and the local television stations part of 21st Century Fox, it could be argued that the joint ownership rule no longer applies (though Murdoch remains as executive chairman of News Corp. and chairman and CEO of 21st Century Fox).

Another open question is whether News Corp., given industry reverses, would make a big investment now in owning more American newspapers.  Asked in a recent conference call with analysts what kind of acquisitions the company was seeking, CEO Robert Thomson replied:

I think it’s fair to say that the two guiding trends of our strategy generally are globalization and digitization. You’ve seen that with the first acquisition, Storyful, which has been very well received, both from an editorial perspective, but not just for our newspapers, from our digital sides particularly, but also from a commercial perspective because Storyful will be able to create content communities around products and companies. And I think you’ll see some of that in coming months. So (as) we said during the Investor Day, globalization and digitization, and that’s very much what the team is doing.

Tribune Publishing does not seem a fit with those goals, and perhaps Murdoch has less latitude to push his personal enthusiasm for print newspapers than he did when News Corp. made its premium bid for Dow Jones seven years ago.

Still the record shows the 83-year-old Murdoch to be persistent in stalking the trophy properties he wants, sometimes over decades. If the L.A. Times and the Chicago Tribune are still on his list, I wouldn’t bet against his mounting another bid. Read more

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tribune_small_AP

At Tribune, broadcasting up and publishing down

Tribune Co.

Broadcasting revenues were up 67 percent and publishing revenues were down 3 percent in the first quarter of 2014, the Tribune Co. announced in an earnings report Tuesday. Both figures are in comparison to the same period the year before. Tribune completed its purchase of Local TV Holdings, which owned 39 stations, late last year.

The decline in publishing revenues was “primarily attributable to declines in advertising revenue of $19.3 million and declines in revenues from commercial printing and delivery services of $4.1 million,” the report said. In a discussion of results, Tribune also said it had “identified reductions in its staffing levels of approximately 65″ positions in the first quarter and recorded severance expenses “primarily at publishing” operations.

Tribune plans to spin off its publishing division this year. Tribune President and CEO Peter Liguori said the newspapers “continued to deliver very good results in a challenging environment.” Tribune Co. will retain the company’s real estate assets after the split, and Liguori recently floated the possibility of building another Tribune Tower. Read more

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mct-small

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: Read more

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Henry Waxman asks Tribune CEO to reconsider newspaper spinoff

U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman has sent a letter to Tribune Co. CEO Peter Liguori saying interviews with experts “raised serious concerns about the future of the Los Angeles Times” should the company go ahead with its plan to spin off its newspaper division.

Poynter’s Rick Edmonds is among the experts Waxman consulted.

Waxman is concerned about Tribune Co.’s plans to saddle the newspapers with debt and keep their real estate, but he also says the company’s plan to consolidate some newsgathering functions “raises concerns about the ability of the papers to continue putting resources into local coverage.” The plans, he says, “will place the long-term viability of the Los Angeles Times and other Tribune papers at risk.”

In a statement to Poynter, Los Angeles Times Publisher Eddy Hartenstein said that, “From our ongoing discussions, Congressman Waxman should by now be fully aware that the structure of the spin-off of Tribune Publishing is based on sound financial principles and a deep commitment to providing Tribune’s newspapers with a strong, long-term future.” He continues:

The assertions of the academics consulted by the Congressman provide no new insight and in many cases are simply wrong. As publisher of the Los Angeles Times for the last six years and soon-to-be Chairman of the Board of Tribune Publishing, I am extremely confident that the plan put forth by Tribune Company is sound, reasonable and will help protect and build a strong future for the Los Angeles Times and Tribune’s other newspapers for years to come.

Waxman has raised concerns about the plan before. He plans to retire this year.

Here’s the letter:

Letter to Tribune Co. CEO from Henry Waxman by Andrew Beaujon

Related: Buzz off, Waxman — Congress can’t tell a newspaper how to do business (Reuters) Read more

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Classified Ventures’ assets could be worth more than all Tribune’s papers

Crain’s Chicago Business

The sale of Apartments.com and the planned sale of Cars.com “shows how upside-down the media business has become,” Lynne Marek writes about a conversation with the investment banker Chuck DelGrande.

“The joint venture’s assets could be worth more than the value of all eight newspapers owned by Tribune,” Marek writes. “The highest price floated for Tribune’s newspaper group, which Tribune plans to spin off as Tribune Publishing Co. later this year, topped out at about $1 billion when it was on the sales block last year.”

Tribune’s 28 percent stake in Classified Ventures is worth about $700 million, William Launder reported in The Wall Street Journal last year. Apartments.com sold for $585 million earlier this month, and some of that cash went to newspaper companies like McClatchy, Gannett and A.H. Belo, as well as Graham Holdings, which used to own The Washington Post. All have stakes in Classified Ventures.

The consortium is looking for “as much as $3 billion” for Cars.com, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month. Read more

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Tribune builds robot to read the news

Advertising Age

Robots that write stories are so two days ago. Newsbeat, a new app from the Tribune Company, “uses voice-over artists and a robot to read news stories,” Michael Learmonth reports. Here’s what it sounds like reading the headline and lead of a Los Angeles Times story:

“We had been looking at our key asset, which is news and what we could do with that asset,” Tribune Digital Ventures honcho Shashi Seth tells Learmonth. Voice artists “read the top-100 or so stories,” Learmonth writes.

The rest are read by a Siri-like text-to-speech technology, which reads the top couple paragraphs of each story. The system has some intelligence built in to know that in a sports story, for example, a dash means “to,” and to read “California” where the dateline says “Calif.”

Newsbeat’s business model is radio ads. “I think something like this creates a whole new industry, much like Pandora and Spotify have done for music,” Seth says.

Related training: Data Journalism for Your Beat and Newsroom Read more

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