* From a 2016 Tribune profile of its new owner Michael Ferro…
“Instead of playing golf and doing stuff, this is my project — journalism,” he said. “We all want to do something great in life. Just because you made money, is that what your kids are going to remember you for? Journalism is important to save right now.”
* Robert Feder asks “How’d that work out?”…
On Friday Ferro announced he was selling his entire stake in tronc — more than nine million shares — for $208.6 million. Three weeks earlier he stepped down as chairman just ahead of a report that accused him of sexual misconduct with two women. His three-year, $5 million-per-year management consulting agreement with tronc will remain in effect, according to the Tribune. In the end, Ferro made a fortune stripping company assets (including the Los Angeles Times, which he sold for $500 million) and eliminating more than a thousand newspaper jobs. With employees rising up to demand union rights in L.A. and Chicago, and no discernible plan for the future, the company appears to be in disarray.
Far from saving journalism, Ferro had left a long list of newspapers much worse off than when he’d bought them. Former Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski tweeted: “What a scandalous reign atop an historic newspaper company.”
$5 million a year could pay a whole lot of reporters’ salaries.
“At $23 per share, his payout represents a premium of 34 percent over the current stock price,” Feder wrote last week. He paid $44 million up front.
The buyer, a distant relation to the McCormick family that controlled the Chicago Tribune throughout much of its history, approached Ferro within the past couple of weeks with the offer, according to a source familiar with the deal.
Sargent McCormick is listed in the SEC filing as the manager of McCormick Media, whose address is affiliated with Harvester Trust, a privately held trust formed in 1900 “to continue the legacy of the McCormick Family, building upon the pivotal role played by International Harvester in the industrial revolution and development of the United States and the world in the 1800s,” according to its LinkedIn page.
Leander McCormick and his brother, Cyrus, co-founded the company that would become International Harvester. A third brother, William, was the grandfather of Robert McCormick, the famous publisher of the Chicago Tribune.
McCormick Media’s planned level of involvement remains unclear. Efforts to reach McCormick were not successful Friday.