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Business & Economy

What the Tribune Co. spinoff of the LA Times means




The Los Angeles Times building in downtown L.A.
The Los Angeles Times building in downtown L.A.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

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As of Monday, it is official: The Tribune Co. spins off its print newspapers into a separate company.

The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other media properties that Chicago-based Tribune Co.  once owned will now form Tribune Publishing, a multimillion dollar deal that comes in the wake of bankruptcy proceedings for the Tribune Co.

The remaining Tribune Co. becomes Tribune Media and will operate 42 TV stations, including KTLA. 

Ken Doctor, a news industry analyst with the Nieman Journalism Lab, told Take Two that the move could be bad for newspapers such as the Times, because they used to rely on Tribune's broadcast entities as a cushion for potential losses.

"We're seeing improvements in the Times — new website, new apps, some really good hires. They're going to try to hold the line, but unless they can find some new revenue sources, they're going to have to continue to cut, and, unfortunately, I think the readers will see that."

Tribune has said the move — which was announced a year ago — will let one company take advantage of growth in broadcasting and allow the other to focus on print, although revenue in the newspaper industry has been declining for years.

The Times reports Tribune Publishing CEO Jack Griffin will seek to grow and diversify digital revenue across all eight of the new company's newspapers:

“Our job is to manage (revenue declines) judiciously over time while we pursue the growth areas of our business, which are increasingly digital growth areas … so that in the aggregate, we’re a growth business,” Griffin said.

Eddy Hartenstein will step down Monday as publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times to become non-executive chairman of the Tribune Publishing board. Griffin and Hartenstein will serve on the board along with four outside directors.

The New York Times offered this background on Griffin:

Mr. Griffin’s career is a mix of success and stumbles. He fared well at the magazine company Meredith, where he served as president of the national media group from 2004 to 2010. Lauren Wiener, who worked as Meredith’s senior vice president for digital, said Mr. Griffin helped brands like Better Homes and Gardens find ways to make money beyond the print magazine and built up services to help companies with social media. Meredith’s revenues grew from $808 million in 2003 to $1.27 billion in 2008 before the recession hit, said Barry L. Lucas, senior vice president for research at Gabelli & Company.