June 2, 2016

The press will be barred from a much-anticipated Tribune Publishing shareholder meeting being held in Los Angeles later today.

At the meeting, shareholders will either vote for or withhold votes from Tribune Publishing’s board of directors slate in a symbolic test of confidence in the company’s leadership.

A Tribune Publishing spokesperson told Poynter that public companies commonly limit attendance of their annual meetings to shareholders only.

Nell Minow, a Washington-based corporate governance expert, concurred, noting that closing a meeting is not an infrequent happenstance in corporate America. This is especially true if there are notable and newsy matters playing out.

It’s why she counsels journalists to buy a share of stock to be eligible to attend. In an era before smartphones, she even once went to an annual meeting where “they literally confiscated my pen.”

News of the closure was first reported by Robert Feder.

Today’s shareholder meeting comes after weeks of dueling press releases from Gannett and Tribune Publishing, which are locked in a battle for control over 11 of America’s most storied daily newspapers. In late April, Gannett offered $815 million to acquire Tribune, a bid that was ultimately rebuffed.

Since then, Gannett has sweetened the deal, which was subsequently rejected, and accused Tribune of walking away from a juicy offer. Tribune Publishing Chairman Michael Ferro, meanwhile, has shored up his position (and summoned a $70 million infusion of growth capital) by bringing on a major investor in Patrick Soon-Shiong. Tribune has also adopted a poison pill plan that makes it difficult for Gannett to acquire a preponderance of the company without radically changing its capital structure.

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