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“What a scandalous reign atop an historic newspaper company”

Monday, Apr 16, 2018

* 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.

* Tribune

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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

9 Comments
  1. - Annonin' - Monday, Apr 16, 18 @ 1:13 pm:

    It is hard to imagine that someone could be a bigger kink/owner of the Tribbies, but this Magoo might have stole the show.


  2. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 16, 18 @ 1:14 pm:

    You can see why a bust-out artist like Ferro is pals with Rauner.

    Milk the place dry and walk away with a fat payday.

    Check out how much wire service copy there is in the Trib. Same old masthead, but half the paper is stories you can get somewhere else.


  3. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Apr 16, 18 @ 1:50 pm:

    Story of newspaper business: going from Colonel McCormick to Sargent McCormick


  4. - a drop in - Monday, Apr 16, 18 @ 2:16 pm:

    “…but half the paper is stories you can get somewhere else.”

    True that. I google the trib storyline and I can usually find it somewhere else for free.


  5. - Cocoa Dave - Monday, Apr 16, 18 @ 2:26 pm:

    Yep and unions need busted up because the workers make too much money. These guys won’t be happy until the have all of the money.


  6. - paddyrollingstone - Monday, Apr 16, 18 @ 2:37 pm:

    Also, Paulie could do anything. Especially run up bills on the joint’s credit. And why not? Nobody’s gonna pay for it anyway. And as soon as the deliveries are made in the front door, you move the stuff out the back and sell it at a discount. You take a two hundred dollar case of booze and you sell it for a hundred. It doesn’t matter. It’s all profit. And then finally, when there’s nothing left, when you can’t borrow another buck from the bank or buy another case of booze, you bust the joint out. You light a match.


  7. - walker - Monday, Apr 16, 18 @ 3:16 pm:

    Paddy: Nice.


  8. - Trapped in the 'burbs - Monday, Apr 16, 18 @ 3:55 pm:

    Epic destruction of what was once a highly regarded newspaper and media outlet. After trying to crush the Sun Times, it looks like the Tribune is in a death spiral.


  9. - Truthteller - Monday, Apr 16, 18 @ 8:35 pm:

    Three weeks earlier he stepped down as chairman just ahead of a report that accused him of sexual misconduct with two women.
    Madigan shouldn’t have fired Kevin Quinn before his story broke. He should have lived by Trib standards and let Quinn resign and given him a sweetheart contract


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