Tribune Company History

435 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611-4066

Telephone: (312) 222-9100
Fax: (312) 222-1573

Public Company
Incorporated: 1861
Employees: 23,800
Sales: $5.59 billion (2003)
Stock Exchanges: New York Chicago Pacific
Ticker Symbol: TRB
NAIC: 511110 Newspaper Publishers; 512110 Motion Picture and Video Production; 515112 Radio Stations; 515120 Television Broadcasting; 515210 Cable and Other Subscription Programming; 516110 Internet Publishing and Broadcasting; 519110 News Syndicates; 711211 Sports Teams and Clubs

Company Perspectives:

Mission: Build businesses that inform and entertain our customers in the ways, places and at the times they want.

Key Dates:

James Kelly, John E. Wheeler, and Joseph K.C. Forrest begin publishing the Chicago Daily Tribune newspaper.
Joseph Medill and associates purchase the paper.
The paper is merged with the Democratic Press, forming the Chicago Daily Press and Tribune.
The paper's name returns to the Chicago Daily Tribune.
Tribune Company is incorporated; the paper is renamed the Chicago Tribune.
Medill gains full control of Tribune Co.
The company falls under the control of two grandsons of Medill, Robert R. McCormick and Joseph Medill Patterson.
Patterson launches the New York News (later the Daily News).
The company expands into radio with the launch of the Chicago station WGN.
The company's new headquarters, Tribune Tower, is opened.
The Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate is formed and is the forerunner of the Tribune Media Services syndication service.
WGN-TV begins broadcasting in Chicago, and WPIX-TV in New York City.
Tribune acquires the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The Orlando Sentinel newspaper is added to the fold.
WGN-TV becomes a nationwide cable television "superstation."
The company buys the Chicago Cubs baseball team from William Wrigley for $20.5 million; Tribune Broadcasting Company is established.
Tribune Entertainment Company is established.
Tribune Company goes public.
Los Angeles station KTLA-TV is acquired for $510 million.
Following a protracted strike, the company divests the New York Daily News.
CLTV News, Chicago's first 24-hour, local news cable channel, is launched; an educational publisher arm, Tribune Education, begins to be built through acquisitions.
Tribune acquires a 12.5 percent stake in the upstart Warner Bros. (WB) Television Network.
The company acquires Renaissance Communications Corp. and its six television stations for $1.1 billion.
Tribune acquires the Times Mirror Company for $8.3 billion, gaining the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, the Baltimore Sun, and several other newspapers; Tribune Education is sold off, as are three units acquired as part of the Times Mirror deal: Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc., AchieveGlobal, and Times Mirror Magazines.
The company trades two of its Denver radio stations for two television stations in Indiana; Chicago magazine is acquired for $35 million.
Tribune exchanges its last Denver radio station for a television station in Portland, leaving the company with one remaining radio station, WGN-AM in Chicago; a fourth television station, KPLR-TV in St. Louis, is purchased for $200 million; Dennis FitzSimons takes over as president, CEO, and chairman.

Company History:

Further Reading:

  • Alkin, Michael, "The Tribune Company: Batter Up," Financial World, March 18, 1997, pp. 24, 26.
  • Borden, Jeff, "Merger Heat for Trib Co.: Big Media Combines Make It Also-Also Ran," Crain's Chicago Business, August 7, 1995, pp. 3, 34.
  • ------, "Trib CEO Shuns Headlines: Ad Slump, Daily News Woes Test Low-Key Style," Crain's Chicago Business, July 9, 1990, p. 1.
  • ------, "Trib Co. Buys Low, Flies High with Shrewd Internet Buys," Crain's Chicago Business, August 30, 1999, p. 4.
  • ------, "Trib's Blessing and Curse: Cash," Crain's Chicago Business, May 6, 1996, pp. 1, 78.
  • ------, "Tribune Rewrites Corporate Future," Crain's Chicago Business, January 20, 1992, pp. 1, 45.
  • ------, "With News an Old Story, Trib Is in a Mood to Shop," Crain's Chicago Business, May 20, 1991, p. 3.
  • Byrne, Harlan S., "Thank You, Geraldo Rivera: Tribune Co. Is Full of Good News," Barron's, November 21, 1988, pp. 36-37+.
  • Copple, Brandon, "Paper Tiger," Forbes, March 19, 2001, p. 66.
  • Fawcett, Adrienne, "Tribune's Vision Goes Well Beyond Online Newspapers," Advertising Age, June 2, 1997, pp. S-8, S-10.
  • Fitzgerald, Mark, "Broadcasting Dominant," Editor and Publisher, July 13, 1996, p. 17.
  • Fitzgerald, Mark, and Todd Shields, "Tribune Taps Broadcast's FitzSimons As New Head," Editor and Publisher, December 9, 2002, p. 3.
  • Gelfand, M. Howard, "Tribune Fine-Tunes Plans by Unloading Cable," Crain's Chicago Business, October 27, 1986, p. 22.
  • Kinsley, Philip, The Chicago Tribune, Its First Hundred Years (3 vols.), New York: Knopf, 1943-46.
  • Kogan, Rick, "Down to Business: Tribune Company," Chicago History, March 1993, pp. 20-25.
  • Lazare, Lewis, "Flush Tribune Fine-Tunes Broadcast Unit's Signals," Crain's Chicago Business, April 25, 1988, p. 2.
  • Littleton, Cynthia, "Renaissance Buy Should Boost Tribune Entertainment," Broadcasting and Cable, July 8, 1996, p. 9.
  • McCarthy, Michael J., and Matthew Rose, "Media Owners See Few Benefits of Bundling Ads," Wall Street Journal, May 14, 2003, p. B1.
  • McCormick, Brian, "Meet Trib's Next CEO: Broadcast Vet FitzSimons a Break from Print Past," Crain's Chicago Business, May 6, 2002, p. 4.
  • Miller, James P., "How Tribune Grabbed a Media Prize: With a $5.9 Billion Deal, Tribune CEO's Strategy Is Put to High-Stakes Test," Wall Street Journal, March 14, 2000, p. B1.
  • Milliot, Jim, "Tribune Spends $97 Million on Publishing Acquisitions," Publishers Weekly, July 12, 1993, p. 12.
  • Milliot, Jim, and Bridget Kinsella, "Tribune Acquires EPC, NTC for Total of $282 Million," Publishers Weekly, February 12, 1996, p. 10.
  • Moore, Thomas, "Why Tribune Co. Is Feeding the Chicago Cubs," Fortune, June 28, 1982, pp. 44+.
  • Mullman, Jeremy, "Media Muscle: No Longer a Mere Newspaper-Broadcast Concern, Tribune Co. Intends to Get Bigger," Crain's Chicago Business, June 2, 2003, p. A75.
  • ------, "Trib Triumph at Risk: Firm Could Win or Lose Big As Congress Revisits FCC Rules," Crain's Chicago Business, August 4, 2003, p. 1.
  • Rathbun, Elizabeth A., "Tribune's Renaissance," Broadcasting and Cable, July 8, 1996, pp. 4, 8-9.
  • Rowan, Roy, "Secrets of the Tribune Tower," Fortune, April 5, 1982, pp. 66+.
  • Santoli, Michael, "Widening Net: Tribune's National Reach Offers Potential Overlooked by Wall Street," Barron's, September 18, 2000, pp. 18, 20, 22.
  • Smith, Richard Norton, The Colonel: The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick, 1880-1955, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
  • Squires, James D., Read All About It!: The Corporate Takeover of America's Newspapers, New York: Times Books, 1993.
  • Sturm, Paul W., "Is There an Exorcist in the House?," Forbes, September 1, 1977, p. 61.
  • Teinowitz, Ira, "Taking Charge at Tribune Co.: New President Madigan Sees Growth Ahead," Advertising Age, June 6, 1994, p. 11.
  • ------, "Tribune Looks Forward with Latest Acquisitions," Advertising Age, August 2, 1993, p. 20.
  • Weber, Joseph, "Ad Slump? What Ad Slump?," Business Week, March 12, 2001, pp. 78-79.
  • Weiner, Steve, "It's a Changing World," Forbes, October 3, 1988, pp. 88+.
  • Wendt, Lloyd, Chicago Tribune: The Rise of a Great American Newspaper, Chicago: Rand McNally, 1979.
  • "What Turned Tribune Co. into a Penny Pincher," Business Week, June 22, 1981, pp. 111+.

Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol.63. St. James Press, 2004.