Virginia Newspaper Sold to Tronc – Staffers Learn News From Rival Paper

Reporters from The Virginian-Pilot were stunned to find their paper had been sold for $34 million

Media company Tronc announced Tuesday that it is buying another newspaper, The Virginian-Pilot. Pilot employees learned the news publicly from a report in the Daily Press, a Tronc-owned rival publication.

The sale includes all of the Virginian-Pilot’s publications and offices and was made for a $34 million, according to the Daily Press.

“From its founding in 1865 to its award-winning Pulitzer pieces, the Virginian-Pilot has a long history of a commitment to journalism,” said Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn in a press release announcing the sale.

“The inclusion of The Virginian-Pilot further strengthens our presence in the region and renews our commitment to our longstanding tradition of journalistic excellence,” the announcement went on.

But on Twitter, Virginian-Pilot General Assembly reporter Jordan Pascale said the newspaper’s staff discovered they were being bought by their rival paper’s owners through news reports, and that an email announcing the sale and promising a staff meeting to explain further details was not sent to the staff until after the Daily Press broke the news online.

The Pilot’s government reporter Alissa Skelton added that, in a meeting, staffers were told that had the sale taken place 20 years ago, their paper would have been worth “10 or 15 times as much” as it was sold for today. Pascale said that Dearborn spoke with staffers during the meeting and promised that Tronc would not merge the Daily Press and The Pilot.

According to the press release, the Virginian-Pilot has a monthly online visitor count of 1.9 million and a Sunday circulation of 132,000, the largest of any newspaper in Virginia.