It has been less than three weeks since Tribune, one of the world's most storied media companies and publisher of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, gloriously rebranded itself as Tronc. Tribune newspapers were responsible for some of the best journalism of the past century; Tronc, according to its leaders, would instead serve as a "content curation and monetization engine." Today, in a chilling new video warning issued to all employees, the leaders of the Tronc empire unveiled phase two of their plan: the gradual transformation of the company into a series of video embeds.
"This is the future of journalism. This is the future of content," says Malcolm CasSelle, Tronc's chief technology officer. The video is meant to rally the troops for a massive reorganization, but is undercut by surreal graphics showing Tronc as a colorful Death Star with massive antennae that have emerged to slurp up every content planet in the known universe. Naturally, Tronc refers to this process as "content optimization."
The basic idea here is that Tronc will syndicate articles and videos across its properties. Which is fine! But there's not much money in text, and so Tronc is leaning hard into video. Today, 16 percent of the company's articles include an embedded video; that number will more than double to 50 percent next year. But what if the article I just wrote doesn't make sense as a video, you might ask? Congratulations! You've just been laid off.
The second pillar of Tronc's empire is "artificial intelligence," which involves a combination of ad targeting and personalized content streams for readers. This will be produced by "machine learning," and fortunately the students in the graphic design summer extension program at Loyola University, who we assume were responsible for this video, have produced this helpful slide:
It's that simple. Take the photo and video database, toss in some reading habits and consumer behavior, and feed them into the sigil for House Bolton. The results — visualizations and increased consumption — will speak for themselves.
By now you're asking — is there some sort of sizzle reel for this brave new world? Maybe one where a guy voices a series of platitudes over B-roll?
And there is!