Thursday, June 2, 2016

It Takes Work to Fail This Hard

When I was a young Friar earning my degree in journalism and applied brewery product testing, I subscribed to the Chicago Tribune. Most of my J-school classmates did as well. We would get a New York Times now and again, but the Trib was the "local" paper and it employed several of our instructors. The Chicago Sun-Times was another frequent but not daily read because the Trib had news about the suburbs, which was where most of us lived. And after Rupert Murdoch bought the Sun-Times, the Trib also had Mike Royko, who most of us wanted to be when we grew up.

Our journalism school was named after the guy who brought the Trib into the big time, Joseph Medill. It may be one of the very few journalism schools in the country named after a Republican. At least until someone tells the students what party Medill belonged to and they stage a mass walk-out because the association triggers them and they find themselves horrifyingly supportive of capital gains tax cuts. This will also be a way to tell the real journalists. They will walk out as well, but they will head for the nearest pub, interview each other, and file a story before getting hammered and complaining about how great things used to be until they pass out. I will not dignify with a response any claims that I speak from experience.

So it is with head-scratching confusion I note that Tribune Publishing Company has renamed itself tronc. Yes, tronc, without any capital letters. The neologism represents "TRibune ONline Content." It also represents an early favorite in the Dumbest Idea of 2016 sweepstakes, and states a pretty convincing case to be the Dumbest Idea of 2017 as well. There's a statement from a company official at the link, but I don't recommend reading it if you like sentences that make sense. It reads like it's the kind of thing someone would say if they were the kind of person who thought "tronc" was a good name and changing to it a good idea.

Over at Dustbury, Charles mocks the idea as well, although in French since he is much more cosmopolitan than I. But in any language, "tronc" remains a lousy idea. The company said it wanted to try to create a new identity as it transformed itself from a legacy media company into a modern content provider. So this silly new name is an attempt at branding.

Well, tronc, you have succeeded in branding yourself. But I very much doubt that's happened the way you wanted it to, unless the association you wanted people to make with your new name was "WTH?"


fillyjonk said...

I envision a tronc as a large, hairy mammal, kind of like a musk ox, which roams the countryside bellowing "TRONC!!!!!"

it's a horrible name for whatever newspapers are trying to be now.

(And when I was in college in Michigan, I subscribed to the Trib mostly for the comics and Mike Royko.)

Friar said...

The only thing the Sun-Times had going for it was Calvin and Hobbes. That would have been enough to make one buy it, except people left copies all over the place anyway.