Tribune Co published link to old story that hit UAL

A United Airlines airplane pulls into the United Terminal at O'Hare International airport in Chicago June 4, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

(Reuters) - Tribune Co said on Tuesday a link to a six-year-old article on UAL Corp's UAUA.O 2002 bankruptcy had appeared on the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's website before other news organizations mistakenly presented the article as new.

“No new story was published, and the old story was not re-published -- a link to the old story was merely provided,” Tribune said in a press release on Tuesday.

“Importantly, the URL for the old story did not change when the link appeared on the website’s business section,” the media company said.

The volume of traffic in the Sun Sentinel's website then pushed a link to the old article to the "Popular Stories Business: Most Viewed" section on September 7, which in turn led to it being picked up by a Google Co GOOG.O news search agent.

“Apparently, sometime Monday morning, the story was made available to subscribers of Bloomberg News,” Tribune said.

UAL shares fell 76 percent to $3 after the article was posted on the Bloomberg financial news service.

UAL, parent of United Airlines, had demanded a retraction from The Sun-Sentinel and said it was conducting an investigation.

Trade in UAL shares was halted on Nasdaq after the old report hammered shares. The stock recovered most of its losses when trading resumed.

Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore, editing by Will Waterman