Newspaper publisher and ostensible online media company Tronc has acknowledged how silly its name is and will be changing it back to Tribune Publishing, according to a report from the New York Post. The name change took place back in 2016 as part of a broad rebranding of the Chicago-based business, which at the time was grappling with its outdated business model, lackluster public image, and its inability to adapt to a media landscape increasingly less dependent on traditional newspaper publishing. The change was also a way for Tronc to differentiate itself from the Tribune Media company from which it was spun off.
The Tronc name was widely ridiculed at the time as an out-of-touch way to modernize the look and feel of a company partly responsible for the waning relevance and resource depletion of the country’s major daily newspapers. In reverting the name back to Tribune Publishing, it seems Tronc executives are acknowledging the value in a name that, as The Verge’s Casey Newton wrote two years ago, does not sound like “a millennial falling down the stairs.” (Also, now that Tribune Media is in the process of merging with Sinclair Broadcasting Group, it seems that the Tribune name is back up for grabs.)
The decision to change the name was reportedly made more than a month ago. But Tronc leadership has been waiting to announce it until after the sale of The Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, and other California-based newspapers to billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong and his investment firm Nant Capital. Back in February, when the sale was first announced, Soon-Shiong was the second largest shareholder in Tronc after ex-chairman Michael Ferro, who originally advocated for the name change.
Ferro stepped down from his Tronc role in March just hours before sexual harassment allegations against him were published in Fortune magazine. (He’s now trying to sell his 26 percent stake in the company.) Today, as the LA Times deal closed, Soon-Shiong called the name “silly” and told a reporter for the paper, “I hope that I can convince the board to drop the name Tronc,” adding that the legacy of the company “needs to be respected.”
In celebration of the death of Tronc, let us remember this glorious graphic from an internal video the company made two years ago to inform employees about its new mission as a “content curation and monetization engine.” It’s the part where Tronc executives tried to explain how artificial intelligence would revolutionize the age-old practice of fact gathering and true telling: