Michael Ferro jumped head first into the newspaper business when he scooped up enough shares in Tribune Publishing as it was called at the time to take control of the company. Mr. Ferro in an effort to break away from the past decided to change the name of the company to Tronc, a name that is still unfortunate today as it was when it was first announced. What followed then was a slew of acquisitions. Tronc acquired Spanfeller Media Group which publishes The Daily Meal and Active Times websites. Other acquisitions followed like BestReviews and Daily News. All of this while the company, namely the LA Times was in turmoil at which point Tronc hired media exec Ross Levinsohn to come in as CEO of the paper. But Mr. Levinsohn’s arrival only added to the turmoil due to his own baggage and management style
Shortly after Mr. Levinsohn joined the team, sexual misconduct allegations stopped him in his tracks leading to his suspension while Tronc “Conducted an Investigation”. In less than a month, the company announced that its investigation lead to no evidence of wrongdoing on Mr. Levinsohn’s part and he was reinstated. But right as he was being reinstated Tronc sold the LA Times from under him, but Mr. Levinsohn wasn’t without a job. Tronc swiftly created a new division called Tronc Interactive and installed Mr. Levinsohn as its CEO. Then right after that, Michael Ferro, Tronc’s chairman and controlling shareholder was also facing sexual misconduct allegations and opted to resign, walking away from the chairmanship. When he resigned Ken Doctor asked What was he up to? A few weeks after that, we found out what he was up to as Mr. Ferro seems to have reached his limit with the newspaper business with the news that he was selling his entire stake in Tronc to the McCormick family for a cool $208.6 million.
Where this sale leaves everything Ferro left in his rocky path is not yet known. But all eyes will be on the McCormick family and how Tronc will move forward. The family may opt to install their own people at the top, removing current CEO Justin Dearborn who was hired by Mr. Ferro and removing Mr.Levinsohn from his newly created role as well. With new owners there is almost always change, so change at Tronc, if any shouldn’t be a shock to anyone, including reverting to Tribune Publishing name.
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