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Question of the day

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Takes one to know one, I suppose

Tribune Publishing said Tuesday in a letter that USA Today owner Gannett was “erratic” and “unreliable” as the two newspaper companies tried to discuss a possible tie-up.

* More

Gannett, which is based in McLean, Virginia, said it offered $12.25 in cash for each Tribune share. That’s a 63 percent premium to Tribune’s Friday closing price of $7.52. Gannett valued the total deal at about $815 million, which includes about $390 million of debt.

Gannett said Monday that it wants to buy Chicago-based Tribune to expand its USA Today Network, an effort launched late last year that helps it share stories between national paper USA Today and its more than 100 local daily newspapers.

I wouldn’t be too happy if I owned Tribune stock, I gotta say. But, I don’t, so whatevs.

* The Question: Your thoughts on a national company buying up the Tribune?


  1. - Chicago PR Guy - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:09 pm:

    This would near triple Ferro’s february $44 million investment in the Trib….why fight it?

  2. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:11 pm:

    Macy’s buying Marshall Fields

    Still a “store”, it just isn’t uniquely “Chicago”.

    If they decide to make… changes… we should all be careful what we wish for.

  3. - titan - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:14 pm:

    Would the quality of the reporting/editorial board improve?

  4. - Rahm's Parking Meter - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:17 pm:

    If the Sports Page is left alone and we can get a better quality Editorial Page, I am all for it.

  5. - TominChicago - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:18 pm:

    The Trib is no longer the paper that I read so I have no issue with its being bought by USA Today. But what is striking, the Trib paid $8 Billion for Times Mirror only 16 years ago.

  6. - Albany Park Patriot - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:18 pm:

    Fewer reporters. Less local control. Not good.

  7. - AC - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:20 pm:

    ==Gannett said Monday that it wants to buy Chicago-based Tribune to expand its USA Today Network==

    That’s good news for sufferers of sesquipedalophobia.

  8. - Chicago Guy - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:23 pm:

    I would be happy for them to be sold - unless it is to Murdoch. I am tired of the Tribune’s constant negativity and distortion of issues.

  9. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:25 pm:

    –NEW YORK (AP) — Tribune Publishing said Tuesday in a letter that USA Today owner Gannett was “erratic” and “unreliable” as the two newspaper companies tried to discuss a possible tie-up.
    Nonetheless, Tribune said it is still considering the $388 million takeover bid from Gannett.–

    “Erratic” and “unreliable” don’t have negative connotations for the Tribune poohbahs.

    As to thoughts…. don’t care. The Trib doesn’t have very much local content. It’s a few local stories and a load of wire service. I doubt that it would be different with Gannett.

    If I were a stockholder, I’d take the money and run. And if I were a board member, I’d be careful about getting sideways, for whatever reason, of your fiduciary duty to your stockholders.

    TPUB has never broken its IPO price of $25 (that’s not how IPOs are supposed to work; they’re supposed to be set so low that they take off like a rocket). It’s been in a steady decline since.

  10. - @MisterJayEm - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:25 pm:

    “Your thoughts on a national company buying up the Tribune?”

    It would be better than the Tribune going out of business, but merely that.

    – MrJM

  11. - From the 'Dale to HP - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:27 pm:

    Meh. The Trib’s not that good of a paper considering their resources anyway. Losing the Sun-Times would be a much bigger loss for Chicago.

    If there is a bring side, getting Ferro out of there sooner rather than later probably is the best anyone could hope for at this point, even if this (sadly) means he makes a pretty penny off it.

  12. - What the What - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:33 pm:

    I assume the editorial board will remain the property of Rauner?

  13. - hisgirlfriday - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:36 pm:

    If the USA Today buys the Trib, we could easily lose the Sun-Times. The Trib prints the Sun-Times, their finances are interlinked through Ferro and USA Today would surely abandon their content deal with Sun-Times if this goes through.

    I know we all lament the Trib editorial board at present there but Gannett is unlikely to fix that and just make every aspect worse. Gannett is the bottom of the barrel as far as investing in good journalism. We should not welcome are new overlords.

  14. - hisgirlfriday - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:37 pm:

    Our not are. That typo was intentional because they’d slash whatever is left of a copy editing desk there.

  15. - Belle - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:38 pm:

    I sometimes remember the days that I had delivered daily. Then, I remember how good Sunday used to be. The Trib is pretty bad these days.
    The article on the 50th Anniversary of the the Nurses killing was really good but that was the best reading in a long time.
    Do they still do much reporting or is just re-writing Press Releases?

  16. - dr. reason a, goodwin - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:47 pm:

    I suspect Gannett might not keep the Chicago and L.A. papers anyway.

  17. - anon. - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:51 pm:

    If I owned Trib stock I would be happy- a 50%+ profit! As a reader meh. The tribune has been and is a national business too.

  18. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 2:02 pm:

    ===If I owned Trib stock I would be happy===

    Yeah, if they sell. They’re resisting at the moment, which is why I wouldn’t be happy.

  19. - A guy - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 2:23 pm:

    Whether you like the Tribune or not, a national paper buying it would mean that it ceases to be the Tribune anymore, just the paper that carries the name and the content of the other one.

  20. - Anon - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 2:27 pm:

    Anyone who cares about good journalism should be alarmed. You may not like the editorial board, but the Trib provides depth and investigate reporting unlike any Gannett newspaper. Gannett papers don’t have things like architecture reporters, more than a couple local columnists, a stable of investigative reporters who don’t have to churn and burn stories etc etc. The paper will shrink to half the size of the Sun-Times and most will be filled with U.S.A. Today inserts. Should spend a week in a city with a Gannett paper and be careful what you wish for.

  21. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 2:27 pm:

    I am having a hard time choosing sides here. The Trib is in a pretty low period. It seems to exist solely for the purpose of telling its readers how miserable they should be so they will vote Republican. But it really could get worse, with less local reporting and more schlock and wire service rewrite. In ten (or fewer) years you will have no local paper dropped on your porch, and that’s sad.

  22. - Almost the Weekend - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 2:32 pm:

    The irony is I’m sure their editorial board loves this. Free market forcing companies to adapt to survive

  23. - Gooner - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 2:34 pm:

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t care less.

    The only time I read it now is for Phil Vettel, Rick Pearson (if friends remind me to check out something that he’s written) and the occasional Bears story.

    Their coverage of City Hall is pretty bad, and other than Rick, coverage of politics generally is not good.

    I grew up reading the Trib every day, but if it closed down today, I wouldn’t miss it in the slightest.

  24. - Mouthy - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 2:39 pm:

    It’s at $11.55 right now so if I were fortunate enough to own shares last Friday I’d be mighty happy today. The Trib can reject the deal claiming it’s an undervalued offer, take the deal as is, or hope a white knight can be summoned. If I had owned the stock Friday I’d have sold already. A bird in the hand….

  25. - Carhartt Representative - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 2:39 pm:

    Some days I wish a big flood would come and wipe away the Tribune. I don’t see a big loss there if a few people are missing from the city hall stenographer pool. I really don’t see that the investigative reporters would be much of a loss. I think The Reader cracks more stories than the Trib does now.

  26. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 2:44 pm:

    –You may not like the editorial board, but the Trib provides depth and investigate reporting unlike any Gannett newspaper.–

    I don’t see the Trib being more in-depth on local news than some Gannett mastheads I see on a regular basis: Detroit Free-Press, The Des Moines Register, The Indianapolis Star, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

  27. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 2:47 pm:

    Would this mean more charts and graphs?

  28. - El Conquistador - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 2:55 pm:

    How could they possibly degrade the journalistic quality of the Trib? Really.

  29. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 3:02 pm:

    –Some days I wish a big flood would come and wipe away the Tribune.–

    I was watching a movie the other night and it occurred to me where I had heard that column before.

    Who said it: Travis Bickle or Kristen McQueary?:

    “Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.”

    “I find myself wishing for a storm…— an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury. A dramatic levee break. Geysers bursting through manhole covers. A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops.”

    I guess the difference between them is one wanted you washed off the streets while the other wanted you forced to the rooftops.

  30. - Ghost - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 3:07 pm:

    they can do a hostile takeover and just buy the stck. ferro trashed the place so this seems like anpositive move overall. something needs to save the newspapers, and this looks like one way

  31. - Jack Stephens - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 3:13 pm:

    Its obvious some folks cannot differentiate sections of the newspaper. The Chicago Tribune Editorials (the Official opinion of the newspaper) is akin to the programs on Fox News (i.e., the factor). It has endorsed every Republican Presidential Candidate except for one. Had he chosen another running mate, they’d a endorsed him.

    “Op-Eds” and columns are the opinion of the writer (i.e., John Kass, Steve Chapman, etc).

    The main news section for years was extremely “Right Wing Nut Job”. In the mid 80’s it changed and became independent and without opinion.

    The Sun-Times was the “Bright One” or “liberal” before Murdoch bought and subsequent owners.

    The Chicago Daily News (an evening newspaper) was independent to liberal and known and awarded for its foreign bureau reporters.

    Having said that, I’m personally sorry to see newspapers are going away…eventually. I get most of my news online, but have fond memories of reading the printed paper…especially on Sundays.

    I’m sure as a reader I’ll lose even more local coverage but now there are some “hyper local” sites that are appearing.

    And I guess you could say this blog serves that purpose as far as Illinois politics are concerned.

  32. - Dan S - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 3:26 pm:

    This is like arguing about a company that makes buggy wheels, the day of the paper is over.

  33. - TominChicago - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 3:41 pm:

    dr. reason a, goodwin “I suspect Gannett might not keep the Chicago and L.A. papers anyway.”

    So Gannett is paying $800 million for the Sacramento Bee?

  34. - Downstate Dem - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 3:59 pm:


  35. - JoanP - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 4:00 pm:

    I prefer local newspapers to remain local.

    However, if they get rid of John Kass, it might not be such a bad deal.

  36. - chicagonk - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 4:10 pm:

    Honestly, the Trib won’t be missed by me. For sports, I go to the SB Nation sites like Bleed Cubbie Blue. Business news I go to Bloomberg, WSJ, Crain’s,and NYT. For “local” news, I go to DNAInfo, Everyblock, and Twitter. For state politics, I come here. Local political coverage at the Tribune is a shell of what it was. Freelance journalists have broken every major local political story in the past year.

  37. - Wensicia - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 4:11 pm:

    The Tribune’s relevance is fading; perhaps this would give them a boost. If not, it helps the Sun-Times as the only local Chicago newspaper in the future.

  38. - DuPage Bard - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 4:11 pm:

    What the American public doesn’t know is what makes them the American public.
    Soon only 2 or 3 companies will own all media put out on a daily basis.

  39. - Former Hoosier - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 4:18 pm:

    Sadly, loosing the Trib would not be a huge loss. It’s been in a sad state of decline for a very long time. Although they do some investigative work, it often feels that it is too little, too late. Among others, I can’t stomach John Kass or Kristen McQueary…it would be great to see them fade away.

  40. - atsuishin - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 4:53 pm:

    this deal makes too much sense not to go through. it gives the institutional investors a parachute out of brutal newspaper business. Gannett doesn’t have any other big daily like trib or lat and instead funnels inter/national coverage through usatoday. they’ll sell lat to one of the many la billionaires who have made offers over the years. and the kochs or ken griffin may bid on the trib ensure it is a conservative stronghold.

  41. - zatoichi - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 5:09 pm:

    I have lived in four other states. Every where we lived I could find the Trib at local bookstores, particularly for Sunday. Now in, central Illinois, I live in an area where there is no distributor who carries the Trib so it is not available. The online version is OK, but it is a 10 minute read tops. That mouse click is too easy. SJR and the local rag take longer. Just not the same. My son lives in the burbs. Never reads any paper.

  42. - Ghost - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 6:37 pm:

    Ferro is going to take his money and buy a quarter of cap fax…..

  43. - Independent retiree/lawyer/jounralist - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 8:11 pm:

    Back when dinosaurs roamed Earth and I was an ink-stained newspaper wretch, we longed to work for a Gannett paper. Then came USA Today, and radio news in print. I find the story of Gannett’s takeover bid of The Tribune to be disturbing.
    I lament, generally, the moves towards further newspaper consolidation. It’s bad for journalism, which means it’s bad for the public.
    While I would find it a delicious irony if Kristen McQueary was canned and could only find a job in…New Orleans…the truth is that the Rick Pearsons, Monique Garcias and Steve Mills of The Trib manage to do good work despite the McQueary and Dolds of the editorial page. Very few papers in these parts can say that…

  44. - Angry Chicagoan - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 8:53 pm:

    I see nothing good coming of this. For all the Tribune’s flaws, they do good investigative reporting; they have an architecture critic; they have lots of other specialties. Gannett is lowest-common-denominator stuff. But Gannett generally doesn’t mess with the part of the Tribune that needs the most work — the editorial page. So I really don’t see any upside to this at all. It even destabilizes the Sun-Times as well.

  45. - The_Equalizer - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 9:02 pm:

    Good for the investors, dump the awful “Let’s ‘Katrina’ Illinois” editorial board? Sounds like a win-win.

  46. - cannon649 - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 9:24 pm:

    Bad for Chicago -

    From a news a news perspective the Gannett is offer little and depth on anything is rarely ever presented.

  47. - LCFC - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 9:53 pm:

    – And I guess you could say this blog serves that purpose as far as Illinois politics are concerned. —
    This is not a knock on Capital Fax at all, but this blog is mostly aggregation (well done, thorough and with sharp commentary on the news of the day, to be sure), but the actual news you read here and what is linked to mostly comes from the Trib, Sun-Times, AP, Crains, … And a high percentage of it from the Trib. The paper still does plenty of on-the-ground reporting, in-depth journalism and other work that Gannett isn’t exactly known for. What you read here isn’t here unless those news outlets mentioned above are able to go out and find it.

  48. - Lynn S. - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 10:34 pm:

    Angry Chicagoan +1

    I have been reading the Chicago Tribune on a daily basis for over 25 years, and yes, I have definitely noticed a decline in its quality, especially over the last 5-10 years.

    However, I’m no fan of Gannett, and I don’t see how this offer is good for anyone except those wishing to sell their stock in Tribune Publishing for a higher price than it was at last week or last month.

    And don’t say “Chicago Sun-Times”, because they stopped distributing it in Champaign-Urbana about 18 months ago. I only see the Sun-Times now if I go to my local library (they have a mail subscription), or if I’m in Kankakee or areas further north. Additionally, the quality of the Sun-Times has declined since Murdoch sold it (not that I’m a Rupert Murdoch fan; rather, I root for his ex-wife Anna, who stuck it to him good in their divorce), and if this deal were to go down I join with those who say it will probably lead to the death of the Sun-Times.

    If there are papers Gannett wants within the Tribune Publishing empire, why not make an offer for them directly, rather than the whole company?

  49. - Mama - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 10:56 pm:

    Less local control of the news is not a good thing.

  50. - Way Way Down Here - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 6:43 am:

    I delivered the Daily News. I always wanted to learn how to fold the newspaper hats the pressmen wore. And that’s all I have to say about that. . .

  51. - Delimma - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 8:37 am:

    My experience with the USA today has been as a free paper at hotels or in a McDonalds. My parents always had papers delivered (the local, the Trib, and the WSJ) avoid the USA today like it was a lesser version of real news. In recent years, they stopped getting the Trib because it added almost no value. I’m afraid that at this point, it just won’t matter much no matter what happens.

  52. - Delimma - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 8:39 am:

    I guarantee you my parents won’t start buying the USA Today based on any content being added by the purchase of the Trib, and if the USA Today doesn’t buy it, the Trib is probably not long for this world.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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