Gannett Co. Offers To Buy Tribune Publishing, Owner Of Storied Newspapers
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The Gannett Company which owns USA Today, among many other media properties, is offering to buy the Tribune Publishing Company. Now, the Tribune owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and seven other dailies. The offer, more than $800 million - that includes the Tribune's debt. NPR's David Folkenflik reports.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Gannett is big, and it's thinking bigger. It already owns more than 100 papers including dailies in Phoenix, Detroit, Indianapolis and Des Moines. Most of its papers are far smaller. Taking over the Tribune Company would give Gannett big dailies in Southern California, Chicago, Baltimore, Hartford and two
O'SHEA: I think this is a Darwinian move. It's a survival of the fittest.
FOLKENFLIK: Jim O'Shea rose through the ranks of the Chicago Tribune to become managing editor there. He later served as editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Times.
O'SHEA: In this current atmosphere, the only people that can survive are large, big organizations., and it's because the economics of digital advertising almost demands that.
FOLKENFLIK: Under a new chief content officer, Joanne Lipman, Gannett is further centralizing the control of the articles and information it publishes in its various publications. The company has rechristened the chain the USA Today Network and is touting investigations across markets.
Gannett says it can achieve $50 million a year in savings in taking over Tribune Publishing. Barry Parr is lead analyst at the media advisory firm Outsell Inc. and worked for the Los Angeles Times three decades ago.
BARRY PARR: It's always been something of a dream for newspaper publishers to own a viable network of major metro dailies from coast to coast, really covering more of the major markets.
FOLKENFLIK: Parr warns that big metro dailies haven't hit upon a successful formula. Gannett's smaller properties fair better.
PARR: It's completely unclear whether or not there are any opportunities for additional revenue, and building a much larger newspaper chain strictly for the purpose of cutting costs does not look like a terribly productive strategy.
FOLKENFLIK: Tribune papers have a stronger journalistic tradition, but they've already endured deep cuts, several sales and two bankruptcies. Tribune's management recently bet big on Southern California, acquiring The San Diego Union-Tribune and seeking to buy other papers there. But federal regulators knocked down those plans. There's been corporate infighting, too. A new board chairman at Tribune dumped the CEO who just recruited him. Now, Gannett's offer has put the company squarely in play. David Folkenflik, NPR News, New York.
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