New York’s Daily Times, considered “The Eyes, the Ears and the Honest Voice of New York” for almost hundred years, has been acquired by Tronc, the publisher of Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun, in a deal consummated on Sunday at a price tag of $1.
The deal also incorporates the website and all other assets of Daily Times along with more than $100 million of operational and pension liabilities. It marks the end of an era of fearless reporting which focused massively on deep sourcing and on-the-edge newscasting, administering crime reporting and dynamical coverage of public issues.
The Daily Times, the first US daily newspaper to be printed in tabloid form, was initially owned by real estate mogul Mortimer B. Zuckerman, who bought it out of bankruptcy in 1993. He used the paper’s audacious front page headline, well known as “the wood”, for critique on politicians and candidates, provincially as well as nationally.
The newspaper was once graced by a panel of elite columnists like Jimmy Breslin, Pete Hamill and Liz Smith and prominent sports cartoonist including Bruce Stark, Ed Murawinski and Bill Gallo. But after a crunching tabloid war with the New York Post, controlled by Rupert Murdoch, it lost its grandeur. And later with the onset of digital and internet age, it was left shattered and bruised as the advertising revenue of newspapers fell drastically by 16%, and the gain of 0.3% wasn’t enough to make up for it.
The paper once had a circulation of over 2.5 million copies a day and around 4.7 million on Sunday in 1940, but by the time of sale, it had dropped down to 2,00,000 copies on weekdays and only 2,60,000 on Sunday. The debacle in business led to extensive layoffs leading to a reduction in staff and finally it had to be sold for just $ 1.
Even with a less influential position in the present scenario, The Daily Times still holds power to reverberate. With 11 Pulitzer Prizes to its credit and the latest one received this year for public service in calibration with non-profit organisation ProPublica for bringing to light extensive exploitation of eviction rules by police to depose hundreds of people, mostly minorities. Also, its acuminous headlines on President Trump attracted much attention on social media.
Eric Gertler, the co-publisher of The News exhibited confidence in Tronc’s leadership by saying, “we expect that the New York Daily News will maintain its tradition of excellence in journalism and continue to be the critical voice for millions of print and online readers.”
Mr Zuckerman, who procured The News for $36 million in 1993, said that the paper had “helped structure the dynamics of the city.”
Tronc’s chief executive officer Justin Dearborn also expressed in a statement, “We think that it’s a great deal for the paper and us. We expect it to benefit greatly from becoming the part of the Tronc ecosystem.”
This deal has come as a reason for jubilance for chairman of Tronc, Michael W. Ferro Jr, who is America’s billionaire business magnate. From the time he became the chairman and largest shareholder of Tronc in February 2016, he has been engrossed in conspicuous unification talks with many newspapers, but the acquisition of The Daily has been the only fruitful one. His prominence as a media dealmaker had suffered a major setback earlier, with a failed attempt to bargain for the Chicago Sun-Times and a flop bid for US Weekly, which got disclosed even after attempts to keep it under wraps.
Tronc was also the leading contender for the bankrupt daily newspaper Orange County Register in California, but the concerns of Justice Department over the contiguity of Register to Los Angeles Times (also owned by Tronc) foiled the deal.
Tronc has its operations in 9 US markets including the three biggest markets for media, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, along with other locations including Hartford and Baltimore. The News has already been under the ownership of The Tribune Company, so the company has high hopes to captivate the national advertisers.
The provisions of the deal will give the control of all the operations, including the printing plant in Jersey and the pension liability. These have been roughly estimated to be more than $30 million, to Tronc who will also receive a 49.9% share in the 25 acres of property verging on Manhattan, where the printing plant is situated.
It is also suggested that Tronc foresees to save money by employing the plant in New Jersey to print The Morning Call of Allentown and The Hartford Courant. This kind of an arrangement could save millions of dollars every year.
“Now that The New York Daily News has become a part of Tronc portfolio, it will give us another strategic platform and contribute towards growing our digital business and augmenting our services for marketers and advertisers,” the chief executive of Tronc, Justin C. Dearborn, said in a statement.
Mortimer B. Zuckerman put The News up for sale initially in 2015 and attracted the interest from several affluent personalities, including the supermarket mogul John A. Catsimatidis. But it was taken off the market later, thus raising assumptions about its prospects.
Today when The News has been sold, Zuckerman issued a statement, “The News has been offering its services to New York City and the enclosing areas with its award-winning journalism for nearly 100 years,”. Adding, “As media scenario continues to drive, connecting with Tronc will further grow the product and let it extend quality news and information.”