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Tribune jabs one last FU in the LA Times' face

Thumbnail image for latimes-building-aerial-tig.jpg
The LA Times building downtown, no longer owned by the Times. LA Observed photo

On August 4 the ownership of the Los Angeles Times will pass from Chicago's Tribune Company into the hands of a new entity being created in LA, Tribune Publishing, that experts say is saddled with heavy debt and stripped of many valuable assets. It will be 15 years since the Chicago boys slipped in to buy the Times and other Times Mirror newspapers in a deal with dissidents in LA's Chandler family — an era defined by overall decline in the company's journalism, public regard and business standing, of extended bankruptcy and of too much else to re-live here. (See: the archives.) The LA Times is less of a force in just about every way today than when Tribune acquired it — but also by most accounts remains a better paper and brand than the Chicago Tribune. Just as it was when the sale happened 15 years ago.

Even so, one dynamic of Tribune ownership has been a sometimes-heated rivalry between the Chicagoans, who favored the home-team Tribune newspaper, and those in Los Angeles and around the country who saw the LA Times as the chain's unofficial but true flagship paper. Into that history lands today's bye-bye email to the staff from the CEO of Tribune, the company dishing off the newspapers into an uncertain future. Peter Liguori wishes "to express my extreme gratitude and respect for all of our publishing employees for their efforts over the course of the company's history."

Except in his brief nod to the newspaper history, there is no Otis Chandler or any Chandlers — no Angelenos at all. It's an all-Chicago story for Liguori.

From: Peter Liguori
Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 9:58 AM
Subject: Update on Tribune Publishing Spin-Off

Today, we took one of the last remaining steps in the process of establishing Tribune Media and Tribune Publishing as separate, stand-alone companies, by announcing the timing and final details of the spin-off. As the attached press release details, on August 4th, Tribune Publishing and Tribune Media will each become independent companies with separate leadership, corporate identities, and operations.

Additionally, I am extremely pleased to share with you the news that Laura Walker was elected to the Tribune Board of Directors at the company's annual shareholders meeting yesterday (see additional attachment). Laura currently leads New York Public Radio where she oversees eight radio stations and a variety of digital properties and programming. She brings a wealth of experience, a fresh perspective, and will undoubtedly make a valuable contribution to the company's business strategy and operations. Laura replaces Eddy Hartenstein, who is becoming non-executive chairman of the Tribune Publishing Board.

I want to take this moment to express my extreme gratitude and respect for all of our publishing employees for their efforts over the course of the company's history and the current leadership who led the charge to establish an independent Tribune Publishing. Personally, it has been a tremendous honor to work alongside the best editors, publishers and journalists in the business. I have been impressed and humbled by the great work of the publishing division—across every department and in every rank—and I will remain one of your most loyal fans and readers.

In many respects, what this company has achieved over the last 167 years—the delivery of outstanding journalism, the respect and trust of our customers, consumers and partners, and even our collective financial success—all began with the vision of one man, Joseph Medill, and one newspaper, the Chicago Tribune.

Today, Tribune Publishing and Tribune Media are financially sound and well-positioned for success, powered by award-winning journalism, great original content, innovative technologies, and a continuing commitment to serve the communities in which they are located.

In a snapshot, our company will be divided as follows:

Tribune Publishing Company will deliver extraordinary news and information across print and digital platforms and will be home to the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, Sun Sentinel (South Florida), Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant, The Morning Call and Daily Press.

Tribune Media Company will combine quality content, distribution and digital businesses and will be home to a diverse portfolio of television and digital properties, including Tribune Broadcasting's 42 owned or operated local television stations, WGN America, Tribune Studios, Tribune Digital Ventures, Gracenote/TMS, a global leader in entertainment metadata, WGN Radio, Antenna TV, THIS TV and other strategic investments.

In the coming weeks, there may be questions that come to mind about the spin-off. Rest assured that the leadership within every division of this company has worked tirelessly to ensure that this is as smooth a transition as possible. You should feel free to reach out to your managers and corporate HR representatives for any questions or concerns that you have.

I am confident that on August 4th, as this 167 year-old start-up takes the next step in its evolution, we will all be ready for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. It is with gratitude to all of you who helped build this company that today we celebrate our past, and cherish our future.


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