Newsonomics: Inside Tronc’s sale of the L.A. Times (and all the new questions to come)

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Patrick Soon-Shiong has finally won his hometown prize. After a number of years of trying to buy his local paper, Los Angeles’ richest billionaire has seized an unpredictable opportunity.   In a move that’s shocking but not really surprising, 65-year-old Soon-Shiong will pay a chunk of his estimated $7 billion-plus fortune to finally split with his erstwhile partner in Troncdom, chairman Michael Ferro.

Beyond staunching the bleeding of staff, which would have continued under Tronc, how and where will the new ownership reinvest? Jeff Bezos at the Post, most successfully, and John Henry at The Boston Globe have both trod this path. They took ailing enterprises private and injected new life, under a new mission-oriented strategy. That’s the possible upside for the Times, and for Los Angeles — if all the woulds and coulds recede. This new ownership then would reset the Los Angeles Times (and the kind-of-orphaned Union-Tribune, which needs its own jolt of restaffing and reimagining to serve the country’s eighth-largest city) on a new path. But given the huge challenges still faced by news publishing in the age of Google/Facebook ad duopoly and ongoing digital disruption, even a billionaire has his work cut out for him.


Newsonomics: Inside Tronc’s sale of the L.A. Times (and all the new questions to come)