Tronc Reorganizes Digital Newsrooms, Focuses On Reader Engagement

Tronc president Tim Knight announced in a memo to staff that the company is reorganizing its eight local newsrooms to push its digital transition efforts.

Knight said the first step of this process is Tronc’s rollout onto the Arc publishing platform. Tronc’s local newsrooms will be “flatter,” with fewer job titles across the company and "a higher reporter-to-editor ratio.”

All of Tronc’s print newspapers will be designed and produced out of its new central business unit headquartered in Chicago, called the Design and Production Studio, or DPS. “Despite changes made over the last decade to become more digitally focused, our newsrooms are still tied to the demands of the daily print newspaper production cycle,” Knight wrote. DPS will help “hasten [newsrooms'] digital efforts.”



In the three-page memo acquired by Poynter, Knight wrote: “To thrive as the digital leader in our markets, we recognize that our local newsrooms must reward their high performers, hire new talent and train their journalists to excel at existing and emerging digital platforms. We also need to provide the newsrooms with the tools they need to better engage their readers.

“In collaboration with the editorial managers within each business unit, the DPS team will compile the best content our newsrooms and partners offer into daily print newspapers that serve our most loyal subscribers and advertisers,” Knight explained.

Local newsrooms will continue to decide what goes on Page One and in local coverage. Tronc newsrooms will hire new talent and review salaries for all editorial employees over the next six weeks, with opportunities to give raises to staff.

Tronc owns the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Orlando Sentinel, Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant, Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Daily Press of Newport News, Va.and The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa.

The Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union Tribune were sold recently to billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong for $500 million.

Bruce Dold, editor-in-chief and publisher of the Chicago Tribune, sent his own memo to newsroom staff earlier this week, according to Poynter, emphasizing the need to "become more digitally relevant and establish ourselves as an essential part of people’s lives.

“We must put the audience at the center of what we do. A strategic goal for this newsroom is to produce digital journalism so meaningful, habit-forming and essential that people are willing to buy digital subscriptions.”

Tronc teased this concerted focus on its digital efforts in February, when the company announced it was “embarking on a national digital growth strategy,” with a newly reorganized division called Tribune Interactive, home to Tronc’s digital assets and functions. 

That includes everything from product development to digital subscriptions and national digital sales.

Tribune Interactive will be led by Ross Levinsohn, the former CEO and publisher of the Los Angeles Times.

Tronc’s fourth-quarter earnings report revealed the company was down 19.7% in print ad revenue and suffered a 3.5% drop in circulation revenue, compared to the same quarter a year prior.

TroncX, the company’s digital division, was up 1.4% in revenue.

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