September 5, 2017 Last Updated 10:42 am

Sale of NY Daily News a big deal to Big Apple journalists, less of one to dwindling number of New Yorkers buying the tab each day

It may be hard for New York journalists to imagine the city without its tabloids, but news consumers certainly can, receiving most of their news from mobile sources, not print

The New York media scene is still coming to grips with the purchase of the Daily News by tronc, the silly new name given to what once was known as The Tribune Company. But the reality is that the sale of one of New York’s famous tabloid’s simply isn’t the big it once might have been.

Today, the number of print newspapers bought by readers is less than half what it was just a decade ago. The Daily News, for instance, shows only an average of 215,170 Tuesday print newspaper being sold in its September 2016 audit report.Rupert Murdoch’s Post shows even less, 210,748, while the NYT still sells a little more than half a million print newspapers on the same day.

Peter Kafka, who covers media for Recode, calls the Daily News “one of the biggest newspapers in the country” but that simply is not true. But Peter lives in Brooklyn, so one can sympathize with the sentiment. The Daily News used to be one of the biggest papers in the country, and a decade ago was selling nearly 700K worth of papers daily… but no more.

Of course, like all newspapers, its influence is really tied now to the web. Tronc all but acknowledged that fact in its announcement by mentioning the paper’s 11 Pulitzer Prizes, and its “approximately 25 million unique monthly visitors” to its website, but not its actual print circulation.

Having a lot of web readers only can pay off if a publisher is selling lots of digital advertising, or selling a ton of digital subscriptions. But the Daily News is what it has always been, a single copy tabloid. It sells about 120K copies daily, more than its home delivery circulation.

For tronc, the prize has to be that by having a NYC property once again, it can sell more national print and digital advertising. No other chain, after all, owns a paper in NYC, Chicago and Los Angeles. Combined with its papers in San Diego, Baltimore, Orlando and elsewhere, it now has what Gannett certainly was looking for when it tried to acquire Tribune Publishing in early 2016. Tronc may lack the volume of papers that Gannett or New Media Investment Group have, but they are in good locations for advertisers.

Of course, what had to attract tronc was the price it had to pay to acquire it: $1.

The paper is about $61 million in debt, based on the SEC filing by tronc, but that would not be so much for its previous owner to handle. What motivated the sale, though, wasn’t the debt, but the lack of prospects going forward. After 14 years of ownership, Mort Zuckerman had had enough.


More coverage:

Recode, Peter Kafka:

The New York Daily News is one of the biggest newspapers in the country and Tronc is buying it for zero dollars

“Under the terms of the deal, Tronc would assume control of The News’s operations, its printing plant in Jersey City and its pension liability, the people briefed on the negotiations said. No cash would change hands. Tronc would also receive a 49.9 percent interest in the 25-acre property overlooking Manhattan where the printing plant is, the people said.”

When I read that I did a double-take, and then a triple-take: Was Zuckerman really giving away his newspaper, and giving away a printing plant that’s quite valuable to Tronc (which can use it to print other East Coast papers it owns) and giving away New York real estate? Just to get out from his liabilities?

Yes, he is, a person familiar with the deal terms told me.

Poynter, James Warren:

Can Tronc restore the New York Daily News to glory? Probably not, if experience tells

The strategy of Ferro, a Chicago tech executive whose track record of competitive and editorial success with his papers is slim so far, especially on the digital side, is inseparable from personal ambition. Zuckerman couldn’t give the paper away previously and has always gone head-to-head with a rival, the Murdoch-owned New York Post, that’s notoriously been willing to lose huge sums every year just to maintain a print presence in New York.

But Ferro desires to be a media baron. It’s a reason he engineered a coup d’état after arriving at Tribune Publishing as an outside investor after a short period as primary owner of the Chicago Sun-Times. And it’s why he rebuffed Gannett’s attempt to buy what by then was called Tronc. It’s why he’s refused to sell the Los Angeles Times to a billionaire health tech entrepreneur whom he lured an investor and with whom he soon clashed.

Now he has media properties in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. What he can do with the Daily News that Zuckerman couldn’t is not clear. There will be attempts to cut costs, including printing of not just the tabloid but other East Coast properties of Tronc, notably the Hartford Courant and Baltimore Sun. And talk of more commercial printing at the paper’s plant.

New York City Patch, Colin Miner:

Daily News Sold! New York’s Hometown Paper Once Again Owned By Chicago Company

Zuckerman was a stabilizing influence on the paper.

Tribune sold the paper in 1991 to tycoon Robert Maxwell, who was found dead floating off his yacht near the Canary Islands just months after purchasing the paper. Tribune had been looking to sell it on and off after a strike forced by the Tribune nearly sank the paper.

Zuckerman came in and provided a steady financial influence after Maxwell’s death. Unfortunately, like many papers around the country, the Daily News hit some rough waters. Zuckerman first put it on the market in 2015 before taking it off last year.

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