Tribune Co.

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. Read more


Tribune expands music business with Gracenote purchase

Tribune Co. | The New York Times

Tribune Co. is purchasing the music metadata firm Gracenote in an $170 million agreement with Sony Corp. of America, the company announced Monday:

Gracenote is the largest source of music data in the world, featuring metadata for more than 180 million tracks, which helps power more than a billion smart phones and tablets, as well as the world’s most popular streaming music services.

The purchase comes as Tribune continues its transition away from publishing and ends the year having cut $90 million in print division compensation costs as of the third quarter. Read more


Tribune Co. compensation expenses fell $90 million this year

The Chicago Tribune | Chicago Sun-Times

Tribune Co. filed a form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Monday outlining its plans to spin off its publishing company. Tribune also owns TV stations, and separating its holdings this way “would enable Tribune Co. to offload its publishing assets while avoiding the large capital gains tax it would incur from an outright sale of the newspapers,” Robert Channick writes.

The new company will be called Tribune Publishing and will own Tribune’s newspapers, which include The Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun and The Hartford Courant. “We expect acquisitions to continue to be an important component of our business strategy,” the company notes in its filing.

The SEC filing also breaks down some categories that were previously rolled in with company-wide results. Read more


RedEye Chicago cover designs prove print can be interactive too

Chicago basketball fans are in a somber mood this week after news broke that Bulls star Derrick Rose will miss another season. RedEye — the Chicago Tribune’s free daily tabloid geared toward millennials — rose to the occasion yesterday, offering a space on the print cover for fans to express their own unique get-well-soon wishes. Read more


Tribune Co. has eliminated 360 positions this year

Tribune Co. | Chicago Tribune

The Tribune Co. reduced its staff by 360 positions in the first nine months of 2013, it says in its third-quarter financial results. The reductions came “primarily in publishing,” the company says. Tribune lost 240 positions in the third quarter alone, the report says.

Lower costs were one reason Tribune saw an operating profit despite declining revenues, Robert Channick reports:

Despite declining revenue, Tribune Co. had an operating profit of $69 million for the quarter, up 23 percent year over year. Reduced operating expenses — from lower staffing levels to decreased newsprint and ink costs — helped keep the company in the black.

Revenues were down in the company’s broadcast division as well as its publishing division. Tribune still plans to spin off its publishing assets into a separate company by “mid-2014,” the report says, but there “can be no guarantee that the spin-off transaction will be concluded at all or on the anticipated timeline.” Read more

Chicago Tribune's box in downtown Chicago, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Cost-cutting ahead at Chicago Tribune

Crain’s Chicago Business

The Chicago Tribune’s 2014 plans “will include cost reductions to offset revenue declines and investments in growth opportunities,” Lynne Marek reports Publisher Tony Hunter told staff in a memo.

The Baltimore Sun, which like The Chicago Tribune is owned by Tribune Co., “last week eliminated seven people in advertising management jobs,” Marek reports. “Employees in the newsroom at that paper weren’t affected by the cuts,” Marek says.

In circulation figures released Thursday, the Tribune reported a 5 percent rise in total average Sunday circulation and a 10 percent rise in total average weekday circulation. The Sun reported a drop of 5 percent in average Sunday circulation and a 2 percent rise in total average weekday circulation.

Here’s Hunter’s memo: Read more


Buffett group reportedly looking at some Tribune papers


There are certainly good parts of the company we’d have a good interest in,” BH Media Group CEO Terry Kroeger told NetNewsCheck’s Lou Carlozo about Tribune Co.’s newspapers. Kroeger “declined to elaborate further,” Carlozo writes, but during a speech Monday he said: “The big money-center markets are not what we do best,” and that his division of Berkshire Hathaway, which owns dozens of newspapers, is “best in the 40,000 to a 100,000 circulation range.”

By that metric, Tribune papers like The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., the Daily Press of Newport News, Va., and the Hartford Courant could interest Warren Buffett’s company, Carlozo writes. Last December, Buffett told reporters from the Morning Call that “Allentown is our kind of place” and that while he hadn’t heard from Tribune directly, “if the phone rings, I’ll answer.”

Tribune Co. Read more


Former Tribune Co. executive sentenced to 2 years

Chicago Tribune

U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan Tuesday sentenced former Tribune Co. executive Stephanie Pater to two years in prison, Meredith Rodriguez reports. Pater, whom former Tribune Co. owner Sam Zell appointed to her post in 2008, pleaded guilty in June to diverting $264,000 in real-estate commissions due to Tribune to a company she controlled.

The court issued a second arrest warrant for Pater in January after she missed several court appearances. “Miss Pater went into a catatonic state and didn’t move from her house,” Pater’s attorney John Legutki told the court, Rodriguez reports. “She did not flee. She did not hide.”

Previously: Second arrest warrant issued for ex-Tribune Co. executive Stephanie Pater | Former Tribune executive pleads guilty to diverting funds Read more


Forbes: Newhouses’ fortune increases

Advance Publications owners Donald and Samuel “Si” Newhouse added to their fortunes last year, Forbes reports in its annual list of America’s richest people. Forbes estimates Donald Newhouse’s net worth as $8.2 billion. It was $6.6 billion in the previous year’s list.

Si Newhouse placed a little higher, with a net worth of $8.9 billion. It placed him at $7.4 billion last year. Donald is the nation’s 52nd richest person, Forbes says (he was 51 last year) and Si is No. 46, the same spot he had the year before.

Other media types on the list: Read more

New Newspaper Owners

Dodgers owner on Los Angeles Times: ‘If the price were right, I would buy it’

The Los Angeles Times

Dodgers owner Mark Walter says he’s interested in buying the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, “in part because he is interested in increasing the diversity and improving the quality of information available to the public,” Bill Shaikin writes.

“The Los Angeles Times says something,” Walter said before the Dodgers played the Boston Red Sox at Dodger Stadium. “It means something. It’s a brand. I think people have undervalued that. If the price were right, I would buy it.”

Walter is the CEO of Guggenheim Capital, LLC. Tribune Co., which owns both papers, has been exploring a sale of its newspaper properties but is said to prefer to sell them together. Some of its other newspapers are The Baltimore Sun, The Hartford Courant and the Orlando Sentinel. Read more

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