“Tronc” will soon be just a memory of a misguided rebranding effort.
On Monday, the media company announced the sale of the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune and several other California publications to billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong. Reports soon surfaced that Tronc would drop its clunky moniker and once again call itself Tribune Publishing.
The name change took place back in 2016 as part of a broad rebranding of the Chicago-based business, which at the time was grappling with its outdated business model, lackluster public image, and its inability to adapt to a media landscape increasingly less dependent on traditional newspaper publishing. The change was also a way for Tronc to differentiate itself from the Tribune Media company from which it was spun off.
Many reporters and readers derided the name, as well as Tronc’s jargon-laden press release announcing its new direction.
… Along with its rainbow-colored logo, the company used unnerving promotional videos to roll out bizarrely ambitious plans to pump out hundreds of videos a day and rely on artificial intelligence to target readers. While the Times, Baltimore Sun and other newspapers in its portfolio have storied, Pulitzer-winning roots, Tronc promoted a digital run-and-gun strategy that unsettled many editorial staffers.
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Soon-Shiong has pushed for the name change, which would also signal the publications’ new direction.
On Monday, Deadline reported:
During a newsroom gathering today at which [Norman Pearlstine, Los Angeles Times’ new executive editor] was introduced, Soon-Shiong quipped, “Let’s put our Tronc in the trunk and be done.”
Soon-Shiong was the second-largest shareholder in Tronc, behind Michael Ferro, who pushed for the Tronc moniker. Ferro stepped down as the company’s chairman in March as sexual harassment allegations surfaced.
Soon-Shiong told NPR he might revisit the question of buying Tronc’s remaining publications — including theChicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, the New York Daily News and other regional papers — months from now if he makes progress at the LA Times. He said he first wants to unravel many of Tronc’s much touted digital initiatives and make promising new investments rather than the continual cuts the West Coast newspaper experienced under Tronc and its past owners.
“I think we need to go back to Tribune,” Soon-Shiong told the Los Angeles Times. “I always thought Tronc was a silly name.”