Tronc buys New York's 100-year-old Daily News for $1
05 September 2017
Tronc Inc, the publisher of The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, announced on Monday that it had acquired The Daily News, the nearly 100-year-old tabloid that for decades set New York's agenda with its gossip, sports and city coverage.
The Tronc newspaper chain is led by software entrepreneur Michael W Ferro Jr, and also owns The Baltimore Sun.
Tronc agreed to pay just $1 and assume operational and pension liabilities for the newspaper in a deal that includes 100 per cent ownership of a printing facility in New Jersey, the Chicago-based group said in a late Monday statement.
The pensions and liabilities Tronc is taking over total more than $100 million, according to Bloomberg citing people familiar with the transaction, who asked not to be identified because financial terms are confidential.
The deal represents the end of an era for The News, which was long a voice for New York's working class. It may also signal the end of the political influence of its owner, the real estate magnate Mortimer B Zuckerman, who often used the paper's bold, front-page headline - known as 'the wood' - for commentary about candidates and politicians, locally and nationally.
The News once boasted A-list columnists including Liz Smith, Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill, but it has been worn down by a grinding tabloid war with the Rupert Murdoch-controlled New York Post. And like the rest of the newspaper industry, The News has been battered and bruised by the internet age, when the equivalent of pithy headlines - a staple of The News - come by the a minute on social media.
Sweeping layoffs have reduced its staff. The paper's circulation, which exceeded two million a day in the 1940s, is now in the low hundreds of thousands.
But while The News wields less influence than it once did, it still has the power to resonate in the city and beyond. This year, the paper and ProPublica shared the Pulitzer Prize for public service for a series on the New York Police Department's widespread abuse of eviction rules. And its pointed headlines, particularly about President Trump - a long-time real estate rival of Zuckerman - still attract attention, particularly on social media.
''The New York Daily News is a venerable New York City institution,'' Eric Gertler, the co-publisher of The News, said in a statement. ''We believe that under Tronc's leadership, The New York Daily News will maintain its tradition of excellence in journalism and continue to be a critical voice for millions of print and online readers.''
Zuckerman, who bought The News in 1993 for $36 million in cash, said the paper had ''helped shape the dynamics of the city''.
According to The New York Times, at Tronc, formerly Tribune Publishing, the deal is something of a triumph for its chairman, Michael Ferro, who took control of the company in early 2016. Owning The News gives Tronc newspapers in the country's three biggest media markets - New York, Los Angeles and Chicago - along with markets including Baltimore and Hartford, which the company hopes will endear it to national advertisers.
In some ways, the deal is a homecoming. The News was long owned by The Tribune Company, which spun off Tribune Publishing in 2014.
Tronc and rivals including Hearst Corp and Gannett Co are buying more papers to gain economies of scale as a decline in print advertising and relatively small gains in digital ad growth cut valuations for magazine and newspaper brands, says Bloomberg.
Last year in the US, 50 daily newspapers changed hands in 28 deals, according to newspaper merger-and-acquisition firm Dirks, Van Essen & Murray. The deals were driven largely by families or small newspaper groups getting out of the business.
Arthur Browne, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, will remain in that role and has also been named publisher, according to the statement. He will report to Tronc President Timothy Knight. The newspaper group will now operate in 10 major US markets and have more than 80 million unique monthly digital visitors.