Tribune Publishing CEO: I Just Got Here, Rebuffs Gannett Offer...Again

Tribune Publishing (NYSE:TPUB) chairman Michael Ferro explains the publisher’s decision to reject Gannett’s (NYSE:GCI) bid for the company.

“It’s a great deal for Gannett but Tribune has so many assets, just not the L.A. Times and the Chicago Tribune but they have great brands but most importantly we have almost 60 million monthly unique users and right now our issues are we’re only averaging a little over $1 for those users. The L.A. Times alone has 36 million people a month viewing their content,” Ferro told the FOX Business Network’s Neil Cavuto.

But even though Ferro felt it was a good deal for Gannett, he did not see it as benefiting Tribune shareholders.

“If I was Gannett I would be trying to buy us too at the price they did because it’s a steal of a deal. It’s great for Gannett shareholders, it’s not good for Tribune shareholders,” said Ferro.

Ferro discussed the steps already being taken to improve the technology at the publisher in the three months since he arrived.

“So the issue is the Tribune hasn’t really invested in technology. We’ve only been there, my team and I, the board brought me on 12 weeks ago. And we’ve already had huge improvements in places we put a little technology. But we don’t even have a CRM system in place, we’re upgrading our CMS which is how you manage content, we’re using one from [Amazon CEO] Jeff Bezos at the Washington Post, we’re doing a deal with them to bring their CMS to us,” Ferro said.

Despite improvements to the company’s technology and the shifts in how consumers may access information, content is still at the core of the company’s strategy according to Ferro.

“We are a content-first culture because we truly believe it doesn’t matter; All the technology in the world is great. If you don’t have great content that’s curated and verified, we have nothing. We won a Pulitzer last week, we have 92 of them,” said Ferro.

On whether the company could still be acquired in the near future, Ferro said, “I do think that we have the opportunity to acquire other assets if we execute the next few quarters. If we built the channels that we have and use the artificial intelligence to help content become more valuable I don’t think we’re being acquired, I think we are the acquirer.”

Ferro then responded to concerns that print media is dead.

“I understand certain mediums come and go, we still need to move. There are cars, there used to be horses, we still need to move point to point, there’s just different ways to get the content out there. But people need curated, verified content and we do that as best as anyone in the world as some of the best brands in the world, so no, I totally believe in this business,” Said Ferro.