Comedy writers gave Tronc chief Justin Dearborn the satirical ClickHole treatment on Friday, publishing a faux first person explanation of his company’s decision to slash editorial staff at the Daily News.
“In today’s increasingly difficult media landscape, there aren’t always easy solutions to the challenges publishers face,” wrote the website, impersonating the media executive.
“While I certainly don’t relish the task of gutting newspaper payrolls, the unfortunate reality is that sometimes it’s necessary to take such actions so that I can have slightly more money than I already have,” it added.
The basic tongue-in-cheek premise of the piece focused on the decision to slash the New York tabloid staff, despite the recent highly public enrichment of Tronc’s senior executives — including Michael Ferro, a former company grandee who exited under a sexual misconduct cloud with a $15 million golden parachute.
“[Michael Ferro] had to leave our company because people found out about the bad sex stuff he does to women,” read the piece. “By making the difficult decision to lay off dozens of Daily News employees, Tronc was able to give Michael a going-away present of $15 million, which was an essential course of action for our business because that’s an awesome amount of money to have.”
A joke but — like all jokes — not totally disconnected from real life. Ferro’s $15 million payout from the company upon his departure was so big that it pushed Tronc into the red for the first quarters of this year, NPR’s David Folkenflik reported.
Icing on Tronc cake: controlling owner Michael Ferro resigned as chairman after accusations of sexual harassment. Converted $5M annual, three-year "consulting fee" into $15M lump sum & sought to sell stake. Sale fell through. He kept $. It put Tronc in red for 1stQ.
— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) July 23, 2018
On Monday, Tronc faced a storm of public criticism after it laid off dozens of reporters and editors, as well as editor-in-chief Jim Rich. In a company-wide explanation of the move, Rich’s replacement Robert York and Tronc exec Grant Whitmore said the cuts had been made without a clear plan in place for how to move forward.
“We may have a rocky road ahead of us,” the ClickHole piece concludes. “But from where I’m sitting, the future of journalism in America looks very bright.”