Tronc, Inc.—that’s the Chicago Tribune, LA Times, and lesser titles in Michael Ferro’s media family—paid about $2.7 million last year to lease a Bombardier jet, tweets national media writer Ken Doctor, who spotted the expense in the latest Tronc financials. Doctor couldn’t resist commenting that the money was “enough to pay 25 high-end journalists.”
Or, I might add, twice that many journalists paid salaries a lot of reporters would be happy to have in Chicago.
The jet was subleased for $8,500 an hour from the investment firm Merrick Ventures, which Ferro controls. He’s nonexecutive board chairman and the largest shareholder of Tronc (the former Tribune Publishing Company until Ferro renamed it last year).
Reporting on the lease arrangement last October, Financial Times offered a critical assement by Charles Elson, director of the University of Delaware’s Center for Corporate Governance. “If a company feels a corporate jet is necessary they can be leased from all kinds of places,” said Elson. “Tronc’s arrangement interferes with the independence of the non-executive chairman and raises all kinds of questions.”
Last week Doctor also reported that Tronc was close to buying US Weekly from Wenner Media for about $85 million.
Correction: The photo caption has been corrected to indicate that Tronc leased a jet made by Bombardier; the plane was leased from Merrick Ventures.