Goodbye (and good riddance) tronc

From the L.A. Times newsroom party – bye, bye “tronc”. (Twitter/Jen Yamato/LA Times)

Company reverts back to Tribune Publishing

One of the most stupidest names ever to grace a media company is finally gone.

As speculated back in June, “tronc” is reverting back to the Tribune Publishing name after two years of criticism and ridicule. The change officially takes place October 9 at 3:15 p.m. local time in a decision announced Thursday.

We announced today our decision to return the parent company name to one that’s which is rich in history, prestige and a recognition of our journalistic foundation – The Tribune Publishing Company. said CEO Justin Dearborn in an memo to employees. We know that strong audience engagement starts with great journalism. We are fortunate that hundreds of journalists across our newsrooms are focused on producing the best work to meet our readers in a variety of formats.

The original Tribune Co. was split into two separate entities in 2013: Tribune Media, who owned television and radio properties, and Tribune Publishing, who print such as the Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun. When Michael Ferro bought shares in Tribune Publishing in 2016 and effectively took over the company, he changed the name to “tronc”, standing for “Tribune Online Content”, and with the first letter in lower-case. Tronc was defined as “a content curation and monetization company focused on creating and distributing premium, verified content across all channels.”

At the time, Ferro said :“Our industry requires an innovative approach and a fundamentally different way of operating. Our transformation strategy – which has attracted over $114 million in growth capital – is focused on leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve the user experience and better monetize our world-class content in order to deliver personalized content to our 60 million monthly users and drive value for all of our stakeholders. Our rebranding to tronc represents the manner in which we will pool our technology and content resources to execute on our strategy.”

Huh?

Tronc later explained (or try to explain) how their concept worked in a widely-mocked video:

Since the name change, the company’s resources were cut as numerous employees were laid off, including the Chicago Tribune. The paper also eliminated Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago White Sox beat writing positions in a cost-cutting move.

Ferro stepped down as tronc chairman earlier this year after sexual harassment allegations were levied against him, swept out in the “MeToo” movement. The company later sold the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune to former tronc board member Patrick Soon-Shiong for $500 million. When the sale was finally completed, Los Angeles Times employees celebrated with a huge party, bidding adieu to the awful name and awful ownership.

Despite the upcoming name change, the future of the company is still uncertain as potential buyers are circling the company, such as McClatchy Newspapers. Last year, Gannett made an serious offer to buy tronc, but was rebuffed.

The decision to bring back the Tribune Publishing name tells you using “corporate speak” and all different kinds of buzzwords even people in the industry don’t understand isn’t an effective way of marketing. There has to be more to a media company than using cutting edge names and quotes like “that’s where the future of media is headed” as if you say anything like this, your company has no future. And for the owners of the Chicago Tribune, they felt it was better for the “tronc” name not to have one.

From pixels to Pulitzers to puttered out. And good riddance.

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