Which Brand Will Step Up and Grab the Tribune Papers?By Joe Lazauskas March 5th, 2013
Bloomberg News reported earlier this morning that the Tribune Company would be looking to unload all of their newspapers — which include the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and a half dozen other papers — in a single deal.
You know what that means — it’s time for some wild speculation! Who will be the big buyer?
You’ve probably already heard about possible buyers like Warren Buffett (not happening) and Rubert Murdoch’s News Corp (maybe). But what about all the brands that salivate over CONTENT like it will lead them to the land of milk, honey and ROI? Is it time for a brand to swoop in and become a true publisher and media baron?
Probably not. But that won’t stop us from imagining a few brands that could make the big move.
Groupon’s board just fired Founder and CEO Andrew Mason, so anything is possible. After all, Groupon is a pretty crazy place — remember when Mason brought a pony to the Groupon office to give to Michael Bloomberg?
For years, hyper-local advocates have been trying to find the perfect way to marry daily deals with local newspapers. The Tribune papers could help Groupon conquer the deals market in LA and Chicago, the second and third biggest cities in the US, respectively.
Just wait for the uproar when the Groupon Tribune pairs their Immigration Reform coverage with deals on tacos and tequila.
At some point, will Google want Google News to become Google News? Google launching its own newspaper would likely invite some antitrust lawsuits, but Yahoo gets away with promoting Yahoo content, and Google successfully escaped its last antitrust suit.
With $48 billion in cash on hand, Google could take a flyer on buying the Tribune, even if it doesn’t make much sense. Heck, if anyone can save the newspaper industry, it’s probably Google. Or Arianna Huffington and Nick Denton’s unborn, test-tube love child.
(Hyper-alliance procreation is going to be all the rage in five years. Trust me.)
AOL purchased Patch, a hyper-local news network, in 2009; by 2011, they were reportedly losing $100 million a year on it. Point is: AOL is totally willing to throw a ton of money on publishing experiments.
If properly structured, there’s a chance the Tribune Papers could help save Patch, which is finally attaining profitability in some regions. Think of the Tribune Papers as the Downton Abbey manor, and the surrounding Patch papers as the sprawling village. Arianna could make guest appearances as Lady Grantham. It’d be freaking awesome!
Red Bull is the gold standard of brand publishers—“a publishing empire that also happens to sell a beverage.”
Red Bull built their publishing empire by owning the extreme sports world, from skateboarding to surfing to, most famously, a dude jumping from space. So what if Red Bull, in their brand-publishing glory, bought the Tribune papers? EXTREME sequester negotiations! EPIC wedding announcements! WILD Sunday profiles!
Bungee-jumping off the Tribune Building. Skate ramps in pressrooms. Rahm Emanuel would love it. Just Imagine the headline possibilities: ‘F*ck Yeah!’: Chicago Mayor Pulls Off 1080 While Dressed as a Pirate During Briefing.
Now that’s a journalism world I want to live in.