You might have read yesterday about the Virginian-Pilot being sold to a company called “Tronc,” which also owns the Daily Press. Now this is a serious topic, and we could certainly spend some time talking about the sharp decline in circulation, revenues, bureaus, staff, coverage, etc. among Virginia print publications, as well as the dangers of not having a vibrant free press to our democracy. For instance, see Times-Dispatch announces layoffs, reorganization of printed newspaper; Largest Local Newspaper In Virginia Seeks To Cut Nearly 10% Of Staff; Number of readers of the Virginian-Pilot (NF) in the United States from spring 2008 to spring 2017 (in millions) (declined from 650k in 2008 to 370k in Spring 2017), Roanoke Times Eliminates Editions, Employees; Free Lance-Star Announces Layoffs, Format Changes; etc.
We could also talk about how companies like “Tronc” are basically the “Bain Capital” of the newspaper industry, swooping in like vultures to grab whatever valuable assets remain from dying companies (e.g., in the case of the Virginian Pilot, my understanding is that the $34 million sales price basically paid for the paper’s “460,000 square feet of real estate in multiple properties, notably the Pilot’s main office along Brambleton Avenue in downtown Norfolk, printing and distribution facilities in Virginia Beach and satellite offices in Norfolk and North Carolina.”)
For now, though, I just thought I’d share this John Oliver segment on “Tronc,” which is both hilarious and spot-on about: a) how pathetically lame “Tronc” is, both as a name and as a business model; b) how “publishers are desperate – noone seems to have a perfect plan to keep newspapers afloat. Enjoy (?).