Tronc, owner of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, has sealed a deal to acquire the nearly 100-year-old tabloid for $1 and the assumption of operational costs and pension liabilities.
The News has been owned since 1993 by real estate baron Mortimer Zuckerman. The Daily News has been on and off the market in recent years amid a challenging business climate for traditional print newspapers.
“We think this is a great deal for the paper and for us,” Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn told the Chicago Tribune. “We expect it to benefit greatly from becoming part of the Tronc ecosystem.”
News of the deal was first reported by the New York Times. The purchase price reflects the diminished value of the newspaper that Zuckerman bought for $36 million. The Times reported that Tronc would also receive a 49.9% stake in the 25-acre Jersey City property that houses Daily News’ printing plant. Tronc plans to squeeze efficiencies out of the deal by printing some of its other newspapers at the Jersey City plant.
Tronc hopes the addition of a New York daily will strengthen its pitch to national advertisers by giving it a print and digital footprint in the nation’s top three markets. The deal marks a reunion for the Daily News and Tronc, the former Tribune Publishing, which owned the paper for decades until selling it in 1991.
The Daily News was founded in 1919 by Joseph Medill Patterson. It was historically known for its emphasis on photography — the connection to the paper is the reason Tribune’s New York TV station bears the call letters WPIX. At its peak in the 1940s, the Daily News had a circulation of about 2 million, but now is in the low hundred thousands, per the Times. The competition between the Daily News and the New York Post to grab attention with edgy headlines and hard-hitting coverage of the life of the nation’s largest city remains fierce.
Tronc itself has been the subject of acquisition speculation in the past year. Last year the Chicago-based company fought off an unsolicited takeover bid from Gannett Co., publisher of USA Today.
Last month, Tronc implemented a major shakeup of its largest daily newspaper by installing a new publisher and firing four top editors at the Los Angeles Times.
(Pictured: Mort Zuckerman)