The Tribune Publishing Co. has been in the news business since 1847 and prides itself on the excellent journalism of such big-name papers as the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Baltimore Sun, among others. It is a name that has been taken seriously for hundreds of years.
Now, the company has surprisingly decided to rebrand itself and the new name, tronc (which is lower-case), has been getting a pretty fair thrashing by commenters across the land. It stands for “tribune online content” and it thankfully won’t affect the actual names of the papers—there will be no Chicago Tronc.
However, the excitement that tronc execs have for the new name and the new attitude that goes with it may have some tronc employees a bit concerned about the company’s direction. In a press release announcing the shift that goes into effect June 20, chairman Michael Ferro said a few things that aren’t exactly synonymous with old-school journalism: “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,” Ferro wrote. “Our rebranding to tronc represents the manner in which we will pool our technology and content resources to execute on our strategy.”
June 20 also marks the day that the company will move from the New York Stock Exchange to the Nasdaq. While its employee are busy pooling technology and content resources, online commenters on are trashing the new name. The Washington Post calls the announcement “the worst press release in the history of journalism.” Twitter, in particular, suddenly became a showcase for a lot of distaste for the name.
It's important that we find out which agency came up with "tronc" so we all know who to never, ever work with
— Alastair Coote (@_alastair) June 2, 2016
Go home, Tribune. You're tronc.
— Brian Fung (@b_fung) June 2, 2016
tronc if you love journalism!
— Naheed Mustafa (@NaheedMustafa) June 2, 2016
@LaurenGoode tronc, n: the final stage of a newspaper before death
— nilay patel (@reckless) June 2, 2016
— Ellen Gray (@elgray) June 2, 2016
Ferro is a veteran of poorly named companies. He once headed up Wrapports, which owned the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader, Time Out Chicago notes.
This all comes after tronc rejected a recent takeover attempt from Gannett, something that some shareholders are still dissatisfied about, according to tronc-owned Los Angeles Times. “Although precise numbers weren’t available, a sizable percentage of Tribune shareholders—perhaps close to 40%—voiced disapproval with the company by withholding votes from its slate of board candidates, according to Gannett,” the Times reports. One investor even filed suit this week against the Tribune saying that the board failed to act in shareholder interests. One suspects that shareholder isn’t loving the new name, either.