Tronc is fine.
So reads a micro-obituary written by Nieman Lab's Joshua Benton in response to the weekend's biggest media story: The scoop from Politico's Ken Doctor that Gannett, the nation's second-largest newspaper company and publisher of USA Today, is nearing the completion of a deal to purchase the media brand, tronc. Although "tronc" sounds like something you'd visit a dermatologist to laance off, it's in fact The Company Formerly Known as The Tribune Company and publisher of some of history's most important big city newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. Although a financial bailout of a struggling but storied journalistic institution may sound like good news, tronc's asking price is considered so high that newsroom cutbacks may be inevitable. "The Tronc newsrooms will pay dearly for this pursuit and the eventual price," tweets NewsCorp's SVP of Strategy Raju Narisetti. Though there may be little love lost for the demise of a brand perhaps best remembered for the terribly awkward portmanteau of its namesake, the deal could have serious negative ramifications in terms of media consolidation, says professor and journalist Jim Dahlman: "Downside: Less diversity, fewer voices in news." That's true. But there is at least one silver lining to the deal, tweets the New York Times' Binjamin Appelbaum: "Well at least there won't be a company called tronc anymore."
In other news you should know:
- New York Times reporter Susanne Craig found Donald Trump's tax returns, but you probably already knew that. What you didn't know was that she found them... in her mailbox. ".@susannecraig explains what it was like to get the Trump tax documents and I ~literally~ have reporter chills," enthuses Dallas Morning News DC correspondent Jordan Rusner. You'll get chills too.
- But what's nothing short of the feel-good journalism story of the year has taken a much darker turn for the Trump camp when it comes to his tax revelations. "So the Republican nominee for president seems to have had a near psychotic meltdown last night," tweets the Atlantic's David Frum, linking to Jenna Johnson's Washington Post dispatch from a rally she charitably calls "off-script." In one of the more bizarre moments, Trump seems to think that America is becoming a third-world country and it has something to do with deleted tweets.
- AP Big Story provides an inside look at the deeply troubling and unseemly allegations of sexism on the set of Donald Trump's hit NBC show "The Apprentice," including this doubly disturbing claim shared by the Washington Post's Philip Bump: "[Trump] made lewd comments about a camerawoman ... comparing her beauty to that of his daughter, Ivanka."
- King James has endorsed the Yas Queen: At Business Insider, NBA superstar LeBron James throws his support behind Hillary Clinton for president. "Unneccessary but huge," tweets GQ contributor Bethlehem Shoals with his trademark blend of enthusiasm and flippancy. But others believe LeBron's support is far more significant than your average celebrity endorsement. Ohio may be the swingiest of swing states, and "I hear this guy is pretty big in Ohio," notes Vox's Matthew Ygleisias in the understatement of the year.
- And that's not Hillary's only high-profile endorsement of the past day or so. Michael Chertoff may not be a household name like LeBron James, but his words of support in this Bloomberg article are far more surprising and telling about the complicated relationship between Hillary and Republicans. The facts speak for themselves in a tweet by The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald: "George W. Bush's Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff - former Whitewater counsel - endorses Hillary Clinton."
- You can basically guarantee you'll hear about this story at the second, foreign-policy-focused presidential debate. According to The Center For Public Integrity, Trump's organization did business with an Iranian bank later linked to terrorism. This is a bad look for a man who, as the Times' Steven Greenhouse notes, has used the Obama administration's deal-making with Iran a centerpiece of his attacks on Hillary Clinton.
- In a clever reclamation of the once-deragotary term, "Obama's America," sixty (!!!) New York Magazine writers offer an enlightening oral history of the Obama administration. "Just stopped everything to read @nymag's entire package on Obama's legacy," tweets Fusion's Kevin Roose, and you should too.
- Good news for... Cold War nostalgists? Nah, there's nothing positive about this report from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty alleging that two U.S. diplomats were administered "date rape drugs" in St. Petersburg while at a conference last November. Referencing the drugs used, freelancer Alec Luhn wondered, "Is it Russian agents or fratboys harassing US diplomats here."
- "Maybe we don't like each other that much - and that's what Twitter has revealed." That's what Internet provocateur Chuck Johnson tells the NYT's Jim Rutenberg. And based on recent harassment trends on Twitter that appear to be only worsening, maybe he's right. But while I think most Muck Rack readers would agree that the hate speech on Twitter has long reached a breaking point, it's difficult to accept such a unilaterally pessimistic statement on human nature - not when Twitter has spread vital information, forged lifelong connections, and been a source of professional and personal growth for so many on here. Something needs to change. But I hope there's another answer rather than burning it all down.