Tribune Publishing, the Chicago owner of the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune among other media properties, is pledging to be a "content-first" organization committed to “carefully managing its cost structure” as it looks ahead to 2016, according to the company’s new chief.
On a call with analysts to share 2015 earnings Wednesday, newly-appointed Chief Executive Justin Dearborn shared those comments following the announcement of widespread leadership changes, including the creation of a dual role of editor-in-chief and publisher for its 11 daily newspapers. It also announced several cost-saving and cultural changes.
L.A. Times editor-in-chief Davan Maharaj will now serve as publisher in addition to his editorial role, and will oversee the new L.A.com, a website Tribune has acquired to "celebrate Los Angeles." (http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-tribune-publishing-changes-0303-biz-20160302-story.html).
Investing in such digital properties is part of an ongoing strategy Tribune is committed to as it struggles to compete with digital-first media startups. Dearborn noted that the company will also be looking to invest in potential technology partnerships and improving site functionality in order to reach "the largest global audience on all mediums.” As an example of how this initiative will affect readers, the Times’ print subscribers (and all Tribune subscribers) will be given full, free online access to all Tribune properties beginning in April.
For the fourth quarter of last year, digital subscribers increased 43 percent from the prior year, and circulation revenue increased 10 percent overall to $122 million including the San Diego Union-Tribune’s subscribers. And while advertising revenue dipped slightly from a year ago in December (minus 1.9 percent), total revenue grew 1 percent to $462 million
The net loss was $77,000 in the fourth quarter, but that including some one-time charges and restructuring costs. Excluding those, the adjusted net income was $35.3 million, up 35 percent.