A tronc is born

tronc gif

The best satire is indistinguishable from the subject matter it addresses. And sometimes the subject matter is indistinguishable from satire. For the foreseeable future, the absurd rebranding of tronc and this astonishing video will exemplify the latter.

I’m still not entirely sure this isn’t some absolutely brilliant hoax. If it is, well done. If not, that doesn’t make it any less funny.

Let’s just run through some of the highlights.

tronc stands for Tribune Online Content……And it also means pooling of resources.

The hasty addition of the second meaning for tronc is a great way to undercut the idea that there’s any meaning at all. What started as merely a clumsy abbreviation becomes a concept beyond definition and beyond explanation. One gets the feeling that the “pooling of resources” line was ad-libbed and they forgot to edit it out because they could no longer tell the difference between reality and fantasy.

It’s about meeting in the middle, having a tech startup culture meet a legacy corporate culture and then evolving and changing… and that’s really the fun part.

What really sets this one off — apart from being risible to begin with, considering that’s like saying having peanut butter meet a kick to the groin — is that the other video the company posted starts with an offscreen voiceover saying:

Because change is mandatory, but survival isn’t.

😂 (Presumably survival is “the fun part.”)

One of the key ways we’re going to harness the power of our journalism is to have an optimization group. This “tronc team” will work with all the local markets to harness the power of our local journalism, feed it into a funnel, and then optimize it.

I added quotes around “tronc team”‘ because I feel like she did air quotes and they cut to the solar system visualization to prevent anyone from seeing it. I didn’t get the same feeling about “feed it into a funnel,” though. I think there may be a literal funnel somewhere and they think it optimizes things.

these guys

The key to making our content really valuable to the broadest possible audience is to use machine learning to maximize all the time.

Leaving aside the entirely spurious namecheck of machine learning, is that even grammar? One way to resolve this syntax is to accept that “maximizing” is an idea independent of any metric or measurement — no numbers are necessary, at tronc, they merely maximize. Alternatively, if it is time they are maximizing, the man implies that they no longer will only maximize just a part of it. All time is to be maximized. Still, what does that even mean?

The CPM that we can earn with a video or visualized content is significantly higher than a page without it, and that’s the reason we have to raise these numbers, it will significantly increase our annual revenue per user, which is a key metric for us to grow as a company.

Immediately followed by:

We’re a content company, first, last and always.

There’s no reason for the editor to juxtapose those two statements unless they meant to have them annihilate each other, like a proton and antiproton.

There are a couple of whoppers in the other video, too.

Because newspapers are printed on light.

What does that mean? Is he high? Am I?

A storied portfolio of storytelling is pooled, personalized and presented to everyone on Earth at the speed of light.

Whose idea was it to phrase their pitch in the form of a tongue twister? There’s no way that wasn’t deliberate. Try saying it fast. I wonder how many takes it took the VO guy. This is the second mention of light, too. Really, it’s too much for a company to take credit for a cosmic constant.

Lastly, there are the dueling slogans:

tronc: Pixels to Pulitzers


tronc: Brilliant Journalism, Higher Intelligence

It’s hard to pick. They’re both so good! #transformation

Substantive, insightful discussion of this subject was already handled by John Biggs.