What would a Gannett takeover of the Tribune company mean for the news?

Gannett Company went public with its bid to buy Tribune Publishing Monday after the company didn't respond to the offer. What could a hostile takeover mean for Tribune news?

Damian Dovarganes/AP
A cyclist bikes past the Los Angeles Times building in downtown Los Angeles, Monday, April 25, 2016. Newspaper publisher Gannett said Monday that it wants to buy rival Tribune Publishing in a deal that would give the owner of USA Today control of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and several other newspapers.

Gannett Company, publisher of USA Today, made an unsolicited offer to purchase Tribune Publishing Company for a whopping $815 million on April 12. Tribune Publishing did not officially respond, so Gannett took the offer public on Monday.

If a deal is made, Gannett would add the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, The Baltimore Sun, the Hartford Courant and several other newspapers to its portfolio. Gannett already owns 107 local news organizations in addition to USA Today.

At this point it is unclear what changes would ensue following such a takeover. But Gannett's recent rebranding efforts and other changes might hold insights.

One major change could be the shift toward USA Today national news content. 

"More than four dozen Gannett dailies sub the USAT product for their own local news judgment of which national news counts for their readers," writes Ken Doctor, author of Newsonomics. 

Last year Gannett removed its name from the websites of its local news outlets and replaced it with "Part of the USA Today Network." Some of its larger local news publications also have USA TODAY inserts stuck in their print versions as well.

This shift means USA Today national and entertainment news could largely supplant the work of local reporters on the subjects.

"It’s hard to imagine USA Today national news inserts in the Chicago Tribune and L.A. Times. Never say never, though," Mr. Doctor writes. "Publishers and editors in Gannett cities tell me their readers like the product and national/local split, but it may be harder for metro readers to stomach."

Another big change: Gannett and USA Today could tap into and dominate new markets.  

"This deal … is a huge departure for Gannett, as it has avoided big metros until now," writes Doctor. "Tribune is the ultimate big metro company."

Robert Dickey, chief executive officer of Gannett, said the Tribune family "fills a number of geographical gaps for us," reported USA Today. "We think bringing their publications to the USA Today network strengthens the overall network."

Gannett has offered to pay $12.25 in cash per share of Tribune. The Chicago-based company's closing price Friday was $7.52, but rose to close at $11.50 Monday. 

The deal would include taking on Tribune's debt of about $390 million.

Gannett's purchase of Journal Media Group was approved earlier this month. Gannett bought that company for $280 million, acquiring 15 newspapers including the Knoxville News Sentinel and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 

This report contains material from the Associated Press and Reuters.

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