The fun never seems to stop for the reporters and editors at Tribune's newspapers.
Tribune Publishing (TPUB) , the newspaper half of the once-mighty media company that held sway over national politics for much of the 20th century, plans to change its name to tronc Inc. to reflect Chairman Michael Ferro's plan to use technologies such as artificial intelligence to increase revenue.
One can only imagine what former Chicago Tribune owner Colonel McCormick would think of tronc.
The name change, the company explained in a statement Thursday, is part of an effort to rebrand the company as an online platform, aggregating content from the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and newspapers along the East Coast to "accelerate digital growth."
"Our industry requires an innovative approach and a fundamentally different way of operating," said the company soon to be previously known as Tribune. "Our transformation strategy is focused on leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve the user experience and better monetize our world-class content."
For a group of employees that has had to endure real estate developer Sam Zell's privatization sale, a grueling four-year bankruptcy process and an uneven split with the television station side of its original business (now known as Tribune Media (TRCO) - Get Report ), the name change might appear to be just another unusual together turn.
But for the latest group to lay claim to the title of Tribune management, the renaming ("rebranding" in corporate speak), serves as a exclamation point in Ferro's apparently steadfast effort to remake a newspaper company for the 21st century. Just what or how his plans will take shape remains unclear. Few among us really understand what is meant by artificial intelligence, or how it can be applied to generate greater revenue for news and video.
Shares in Tribune were falling on Friday as investors digested the likelihood that Gannett's full-throttle attempt to force Ferro to negotiate a sale at $15 a share, or $864 million including debt, may have run out of steam. Tribune's stock on the New York Stock Exchange was down 3.4% to $10.99, well below Gannett's (GCI) - Get Report offer price. Gannett, owner of USA Today and more than 100 daily U.S. newspapers, said in its own statement Thursday that it's "reviewing whether to proceed with its acquisition offer."
Gannett apparently has sizable support from shareholders, but that may not be enough to sway Ferro. By its own tabulation, Gannett said 49% of Tribune Publishing shareholders not affiliated with Ferro or a unit of the company voted to withhold their support for its board of directors. Ferro's slate ultimately received a majority of shareholder support sufficient for their approval. The Ferro-backed board has twice rejected Gannett's takeover offer while refusing to open talks.
Tonc, a British term for polling of idea or resources, ostensibly stands for Tribune online content. The name change is scheduled to become official on June 20, the same day the company's shares are slated to begin trading on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol TRNC.
Th only question now is whether Chicago's famous Tribune Tower will be renamed as well.