×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Tribune Media Kills National News Video Site Ahead of Launch, Reorganizes Digital Group

Chief product officer Josh Cogswell is leaving the company

Tribune Media abruptly shut down a national digital news service — which would have included content aggregated from its 42 local TV stations — less than two weeks before it was slated to launch as part of a broad restructuring of its digital operations.

Tribune’s move to kill the digital news project was first reported by Politico. The company also has scrapped plans to resurrect Television Without Pity, the snark-laden site previously owned by NBCUniversal, and laid off the staff of the Screener entertainment news site.

The new Tribune Media digital news product was previously scheduled to debut on Tribune.com on April 25, before the company decided to pull back on its digital efforts. The nationwide news initiative had been headed by GM Steven Belser, a member of the founding team at NowThis Media and former head of production at Vice Media, who joined Tribune Media in March 2016. For the new site, Tribune Media also had set a partnership with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Hitrecord production company.

With Tribune Media’s restructuring of the digital group, Josh Cogswell, who joined in 2015 from Viacom, will step down as chief product officer, interim CEO Peter Kerns wrote in a memo to staff on Wednesday. The company’s digital operations now will be overseen by Steve Baron, head of product and engineering, and Larry Wert, president of broadcast media.

“Today we are taking another step in the strategic review process, reorganizing our centralized digital operation and fully integrating it into Tribune Broadcasting,” wrote Kerns, who took over after Peter Liguori departed last month. “Closely aligning our digital operation with broadcasting will strengthen our digital sales efforts and enable us to be more efficient in our approach to clients.”

A Tribune Media rep declined to comment beyond Kern’s memo.

Read Kern’s memo to Tribune Media staff:

Subject: Transitioning Our Digital Operations to Broadcasting

As you know, a little more than a year ago our company began a strategic review designed to monetize non-core assets, streamline our operations and bring more focus and efficiency to our television business. As part of this process we have sold certain real estate assets, monetized Gracenote, and realigned our priorities to emphasize those initiatives and projects that have a clear positive impact on profitability. We’re also asking all of you to work more closely together across our lines of business to simplify operations.

Today we are taking another step in the strategic review process, reorganizing our centralized digital operation and fully integrating it into Tribune Broadcasting. Closely aligning our digital operation with broadcasting will strengthen our digital sales efforts and enable us to be more efficient in our approach to clients.

Going forward our digital operation will be overseen by Steve Baron, Head of Product and Engineering, and Larry Wert, President of Broadcast Media.

As a result of this move, a number of people in our central digital organization will be leaving the company, as will Josh Cogswell, who will be stepping down as our Chief Product Officer. Josh and his team have done a great job over the last two years—sharpening our digital focus, helping grow our online profile and digital audience, and directing our investments in companies like Dose Media and Attn:. Josh and his team will assist with the transition of our digital operation to the broadcasting group, a process that we expect to complete over the next few weeks.

I know you will give Steve and Larry your full support as we make this important transition. Please join me in thanking Josh and our colleagues in the central digital organization for all their hard work and dedication and in wishing them the very best going forward.

Peter Kern

More TV

  • Jussie Smollett Empire

    TV Ratings: Jussie Smollett's Final Episode of 'Empire' Season 5 Goes Low

    Last night, Jussie Smollett’s final episode of “Empire” season 5, and potentially his last episode on the show ever, went up in the ratings from previous weeks, but still posted low figures for the series. The episode, in which Smollett’s character Jamal Lyon tied the knot in TV’s first-ever black, gay wedding, returned a 1.1 [...]

  • NFL Draft Ratings

    Disney Says Ads Are Sold Out for NFL Draft on ESPN, ABC

    Madison Avenue can’t place ads in NFL TV broadcasts in the off-season – there aren’t any – so it’s doing the next best thing. Disney says ad slots for its coverage of the NFL Draft, slated to air Thursday, Friday and Saturday on both ABC and ESPN, sold out about a week ago. Football can [...]

  • Mala Chapple Todd Radnitz

    Viacom’s Music Group Taps Mala Chapple and Todd Radnitz

    Viacom’s Music Group, which comprises of MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo, has tapped Mala Chapple and Todd Radnitz to join its executive team, Variety has learned. Chapple will assume the position of SVP of content strategy, operations and media partnerships, while Todd Radnitz will be the company’s new SVP of original series. “Mala and Todd are at [...]

  • In this image released, general views

    Comcast Considers NBC Sky News Channel as NBCUniversal Revs Streaming Strategy

    Comcast is considering the launch of a news channel that would draw from the resources of NBC News and Sky News. Comcast chairman-CEO Brian Roberts dropped that tidbit during his remarks Thursday morning on the cable giant’s first quarter earnings call with Wall Street analysts. NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke also spoke enthusiastically about NBCU’s progress [...]

  • Désirée Finnegan Named Screen Ireland Chief

    Warner Bros. Exec Désirée Finnegan Named Screen Ireland Chief

    Désirée Finnegan will be the new chief executive of Screen Ireland, replacing the outgoing James Hickey. Finnegan, who hails from Dublin, joins from Warner Bros. Pictures where she was SVP, theatrical marketing and publicity, and guided strategy for campaigns across the EMEA region. In a 15-year stint at the Hollywood studio she worked on campaigns [...]

  • Motley Crue

    Motley Crue's Netflix Bump: Streams, Sales and Socials Surge (EXCLUSIVE)

    One month after the release of Mötley Crüe biopic “The Dirt,” the band is experiencing a Netflix bump on multiple platforms, including downloads, streams and book sales. In addition, the group gained new subscribers on YouTube and saw its socials pick up droves of followers on Facebook and Twitter. Here’s how the numbers break down: [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content