In pursuit of what remains a very fuzzy vision of a journalism future driven by artificial intelligence, Tronc is now seeking to hire a “content specialist” to develop and maintain “news content harvesting robots.” 

In a job posting dated July 19 that reads like inept sci-fi, the former Tribune Publishing spews the impenetrable mishmash of techno jargon and digital-media buzzwords that has lately become a company trademark. Innovative content ingestion! Mission-critical data ingestion! Industry-leading news ontology! 

Tribune Content Agency is seeking a dedicated individual to join our SmartContent product team as a Content Specialist, to develop and support our news content harvesting robots and classification and management systems. TCA is an industry leader in providing content solutions to the global information marketplace, and with its innovative content ingestion, classification and delivery platforms, the SmartContent team lies at the heart of that mission. We maintain and enhance a mission-critical data ingestion system that gathers and distributes market-moving, ground-breaking content every day in support of TCA’s content platforms and enterprise feeds.

Successful candidates are motivated, self-directed, and passionate about shaping the future of news distribution by working at the intersection of hard-hitting journalism and big data. Work with our team of content specialists and ontologists to craft customized information solutions for our hundreds of clients worldwide. Day to day responsibilities include designing and deploying specialized content harvesting robots, creating and enhancing tools to facilitate data collection, and expanding and refining our industry-leading news ontology.


  • Develop, maintain and upgrade content harvesting robots
  • Develop and refine news ontology
  • Use content management system to move records among databases for editorial review and customer delivery
  • Collaborate with contributors and TCA departments to manage customer accounts, establish and configure content delivery, and support platforms and feeds.
  • Monitor delivery channels and robot performance and troubleshoot content gathering and delivery problems. Send corrections and kills as required.
  • Support sales and marketing efforts by developing customized product and delivery solutions and participating in client outreach and demonstrations as required.
  • Work with cross-functional teams on enterprise data strategy and contribute to special projects

The job listing provokes more than a few questions. Chief among them: What in the name of Ferro is “news ontology”? And how does one develop and refine it? And if the SmartContent team is so damn smart, why in the job requirements portion of the post does it think that “knowledgeably” is spelled “knowledgably”? Perhaps Tronc is still working out the bugs in its content-harvesting robots. Or maybe it’s just full of shit.

Update: A Politico report published at nearly the same time as this post sheds light on the job listing. “The ‘content specialist’ position is unrelated to Tronc’s new name and strategy,” Peter Sterne writes. “It’s not a new job, having existed for more than eight years. . . . It’s also not a journalism job.”

“It is disappointing that we have to defend commonly used services in content aggregation,” a Tronc spokeswoman tells Politico. “Tribune Content Agency’s SmartContent product has relied on this functionality for nearly a decade to aggregate content from over 500 news contributors.”