Griffin Named CEO, Tribune Publishing

Jack Griffin, who previously served as CEO of Time Inc. and Meredith Corp., has been appointed CEO of Tribune Publishing Co. just in time to lead the newspaper operation’s planned spinoff from the rest of the old Tribune Co., the company announced this week.

His appointment is effective April 14; the spinoff is scheduled to be complete sometime in mid-2014.
 
In addition to being one of the best-known execs in the publishing industry, over the last year, Griffin and his consulting firm, Empirical Media, have been advising Tribune on cost-cutting, streamlining and restructuring measures as the company prepared to spin off the newspaper properties, according to the Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Co. newspaper.

In addition to the LAT and Chicago Tribune, newspapers also include The Baltimore Sun and Hartford Courant.
 
Turning to the future, Griffin told The Chicago Tribune: “There will be an increasing focus on digital and monetizing digital platforms and taking advantage of what you can do with a dominant media franchise in a local community. The future of newspaper franchises will increasingly hinge on that direction -- reimagining revenue generation while the industry continues to deal with change and disruption.”
 
As part of the spinoff, Eddy Hartenstein, a former Tribune Co. boss who now serves as publisher of the Los Angeles Times, will take the role of chairman of Tribune Publishing. Hartenstein, who was replaced by Peter Liguori as CEO of Tribune Co. last year, was often mentioned as a likely candidate to take over the top spot at the publishing division  again after the spinoff was complete. However, in February it emerged that he might decline the executive role in favor of chairman.
 
The newspaper spinoff is part of a major strategic shift by Tribune, which is distancing itself from the newspaper business to focus on its local TV broadcasting operations, along with cable network WGN America, a stake in the Food Network and online businesses, like Classified Ventures and CareerBuilder.
 
In February 2013, shortly after emerging from a tortuous four-year-long bankruptcy, Tribune put its newspapers on the auction block but later withdrew them, presumably because of a lack of attractive offers.

By July, the company announced a deal to acquire 19 stations from Local TV Holdings for $2.73 billion, which closed in December. And in November, it announced plans to cut around 700 jobs, most of them in the beleaguered publishing division, as it prepares for the spinoff.

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