By Jennifer Saba
March 6 Media executive Jack Griffin was
appointed on Thursday as chief executive of Tribune Co's
forthcoming spinoff newspaper company, Tribune
Griffin has served as an adviser to Tribune through
Empirical Media Advisors, the media consulting firm he
Tribune also announced that Eddy Hartenstein, the publisher
of the Los Angeles Times and former DirecTV executive,
will become non-executive chairman of Tribune Publishing's
The appointments take effect on April 14.
Griffin will take the helm of Tribune Publishing, which
includes the company's eight newspapers, such as the Orlando
Sentinel and the Chicago Tribune, during a perilous time.
Under the new stand-alone company, the newspapers will be
separated from Tribune's much more lucrative broadcast TV
stations and its digital properties, including Classified
Ventures, as advertisers shun print and readers increasingly get
their news from smartphones and tablets.
"I'm going to be focused on digital and will continue to
advance the revenue and profitability of the franchise," Griffin
said in an interview. He declined to elaborate on how the
relationship with Classified Ventures will play out. Classified
Ventures is an online classified firm owned by several newspaper
companies. On Monday, it sold Apartments.com for $585 million to
Griffin said there are several initiatives under way at
Tribune, including digital subscriptions to its newspapers and
marketing services that help local businesses with website
design and social media.
Tribune has not disclosed the amount of debt or other
financial details of the new company, but Griffin said the
capital structure will be more than sufficient. "This is a
profitable company - every newspaper is profitable," he said.
Separating the sluggish print properties from faster-growing
TV assets has been in vogue with media companies in the past
year. News Corp split from its entertainment and cable
properties that now operate under 21st Century Fox Inc,
and Time Warner is preparing to spin off its magazine
unit, Time Inc.
"With Eddy and Jack in place, I am confident that Tribune
Publishing will continue to prosper far into the future and
provide the quality journalism that has been the hallmark of its
newspaper brands and digital services," Peter Liguori, chief
executive officer of Tribune Co, said in a statement.
Griffin also served as the chief executive of Time Inc and
president of the national media group at Meredith Corp
and has roots in the newspaper business. Both his grandfather
and father were journalists, and Griffin was one of the parties
involved in the auction for the Boston Globe. (Boston Red Sox
owner John Henry bought the Globe and its sister properties from
the New York Times Co for $70 million.)
Griffin will step down from his chief executive role at
Empirical, where he will be succeeded by co-founder Jim