Mort Zuckerman’s twenty-five-year ownership of the New York Daily News is ending as the struggling newspaper announced it was being purchased by tronc, the owner of The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.
“We are excited to welcome the New York Daily News team to the tronc family, and we look forward to working with them to serve new audiences and marketers while delivering value for our shareholders,” tronc CEO Justin Dearborn said in a press release. As part of the tronc portfolio, the New York Daily News will provide us with another strategic platform for growing our digital business, expanding our reach and broadening our services for advertisers and marketers.”
The Daily News has struggled for some time as print circulation has eroded and its locked horns with The New York Post, a News Corporation owned New York City tabloid. While The Daily News veers left in its coverage, the Post veers to the right. As a quality tabloid, The Daily News has struggled to find its niche in a bifurcated market between the more sensational tabloids – like The Post – and quality broadsheets like The New York Times. Losses at The Daily News have been between $20 million and $30 million in recent years.
Tronc is paying nothing for the paper but is assuming certain liabilities, including pension liabilities, that amount to about $30 million. In addition to the paper, tronc is also getting a New Jersey printing operation and a 49.9% stake in the plant’s twenty-five-acre property.
Clearly, tronc coveted the huge digital audiences that The Daily News has and perhaps through synergies can whittle away at The Daily News’ losses. It is not inconceivable that the print edition is scrapped for an online-only newspaper.
The Daily News will become tronc’s second largest digital property after The Los Angeles Times with about 481 million monthly page views.
The New York Daily News was part of tronc’s predecessor company, Tribune, for a number of years. Tribune miscalculated in the early 1990s in trying to break a strike and ultimately sold the troubled paper to British magnate Robert Maxwell. Maxwell turned out to be a swindler, and Zuckerman stepped in to save the paper.