After its preliminary call for bids ended last Thursday, Tribune Publishing is rumored to have three companies vying for ownership.
Among the interested parties is McClatchy, which is expected to make a play for the newspaper conglomerate. According to a report by Bloomberg, McClatchy is said to be including stock as part of its bid, giving Tribune Publishing shareholders a stake in the new company.
McClatchy is said to favor saving money on publishing costs, should it acquire Tribune.
Newspaper publisher AIM Media Management also submitted a bid for Tribune.
The New York Post reported earlier this week that Jeremy Halbreich, the former Chicago Sun-Times CEO, now publisher of AIM Media, may seek financial support from Texas billionaires Jerry Jones and Ross Perot.
Neither offered comment to the NYP, but the paper notes Halbreich partnered with them previously to build the chain of small and midsize Texas newspapers he heads.
Hedgefund Donerail Group has also submitted a bid.
What hasn’t been disclosed is how the papers under Tribune’s purview might be used following a merger.
Look to Digital Media First — hedge funds don’t necessarily make great partners for journalism. And the potential consolidation of resources with McClatchy may not mean good news for its newspapers
However, the sale speaks to a very real problem in publishing: How do newspapers move forward in a dying, or at least evolving, market?
The Nieman Lab recently published a story exploring how newspapers could save themselves from certain death. It outlined the loss in print revenue and staffing over the past few decades and efforts to inject cash into journalism across the country by monied entities and nonprofits.
How the winner of Tribune will decide to leverage its assets will be telling. Newspapers are in peril as their revenue options steadily decline. However, they are also a necessity — in both print and digital form.
The three suitors in the mix offer a combination of outcomes; they will also impact the future of local journalism.