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Significant Events in Tribune Co. History

The Chicago Tribune is founded. The original press run consisted of 400 copies printed on a hand press.
The Tribune erects its first building, a four-story structure at Dearborn and Madison Streets. In October 1871, when the Great Chicago Fire raged through the city, the wooden building was destroyed, as was much of the city. The Tribune reappeared two days later with an editorial declaring, "Chicago Shall Rise Again." The newspaper's editor and part-owner, Joseph Medill, was elected mayor and led the city's reconstruction. A native Ohioan who acquired an interest in the Tribune in 1855, Medill gained full control of the newspaper in 1874 and guided it until his death in 1899.
Medill's two grandsons, Robert R. McCormick and Joseph Medill Patterson, assume leadership of the company. Also, the Chicago Tribune's first newsprint mill opens in Thorold, Ontario. The mill marked the beginnings of the Canadian newsprint producer later known as QUNO, in which Tribune held an investment interest until 1995.
WGN(AM) Chicago signs on, its call letters reflecting the Tribune's slogan, "World's Greatest Newspaper." It was first to broadcast the World Series, the Indianapolis 500 and the Kentucky Derby and broke new ground by introducing microphones in the courtroom during the 1925 Scopes "monkey trial" in Tennessee.
Construction completes its new headquarters, Tribune Tower, one of Chicago's first skyscrapers. Tribune Tower's neo-Gothic design was chosen from 263 entries in a $100,000 international competition. The 36-story building is a Chicago landmark and perhaps best-known for the many historic stones and artifacts from other famous buildings embedded in its limestone exterior.
Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate is formed. Its successor, Tribune Media Services, offers hundreds of different products, including classic to cutting-edge comic strips, columns from top commentators, and other specialty features products. In addition, the TMS Entertainment Products Group now collects and distributes television, movie and Internet programming data.

  • WGN-TV Chicago signs on, followed by WPIX(TV) New York. These stations, now affiliates of The WB Television Network, became the foundation for Tribune Television, today one of the country's largest TV groups.
  • Tribune publishes its famously wrong "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline on Nov. 3. Surprisingly, the newspaper did not possess a copy until a Tribune
    executive, Owen Youngman, bought one off of e-Bay in 1998.

A century of family leadership, starting with Joseph Medill in 1855, ends with the passing of Col. Robert R. McCormick, the longtime editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The McCormick Tribune Foundation was established as a charitable trust upon McCormick's death and now claims assets of more than $2 billion and annual giving of $100 million.
Tribune acquires the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Tribune acquires the Orlando Sentinel.
Tribune acquires KWGN-TV Denver.
Tribune enters television syndication with its U.S. Farm Report.
WGN-TV becomes a superstation, reaching television audiences nationwide via cable

  • Tribune Broadcasting Co. is established, signaling the growing importance of television in the company's business mix.
  • Tribune Co. acquires the Chicago Cubs baseball team from the Wrigley family for $20.5 million. WGN-AM/-TV had been broadcasting Cubs games since those stations first went on the air. Since 1978, when WGN-TV became a superstation, the Cubs have been aired to a national audience via cable. Today, superstation WGN reaches about 60 million U.S. homes outside Chicago through cable and direct-broadcast satellite.

Tribune Entertainment Co. launches in Hollywood to develop, produce and distribute television programming for Tribune stations and non-Tribune stations nationwide.

  • Tribune Co. goes public with an initial offering of 7.7 million shares valued at $206 million. Opening price per share was $26.75. At the time, it was one of the largest IPOs ever made. The company's New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol is TRB.
  • Tribune acquires WGNO(TV) New Orleans.

Tribune acquires WGNX(TV) Atlanta (now WGCL-TV).
Tribune acquires KTLA(TV) Los Angeles for $510 million, making it the only non-network company to own VHF stations in the country's top three markets.

  • Tribune Entertainment launches Geraldo daytime talk show.
  • Dennis FitzSimons is named GM of WGN-TV.

Tribune invests in America Online.

  • Tribune acquires WPHL-TV Philadelphia.
  • Chicago Online debuts on America Online


  • Full text of Chicago Tribune becomes available online.
  • CLTV cable news channel launches in Chicago.
  • Tribune launches ¡Exito!, Spanish-language newspaper

Tribune acquires WLVI-TV Boston.
Tribune gains an equity interest in The WB Television Network.

  • Tribune acquires KHWB(TV) Houston.
  • Tribune acquires KSWB-TV San Diego
  • launches


  • Tribune acquires Renaissance Communications, adding six TV stations: KDAF(TV) Dallas; WBZL(TV) Miami; KTXL(TV) Sacramento, Calif.; WXIN(TV) Indianapolis; WTIC-TV Hartford, Conn.; and WPMT(TV) Harrisburg, Pa.
  • Orlando Sentinel and Time Warner launch Central Florida News 13.
  • Tribune Entertainment launches Earth: Final Conflict.


  • Tribune acquires WBDC-TV Washington and WEWB(TV) Albany, N.Y., and trades WGNX(TV) Atlanta for KCPQ(TV) Seattle.
  • Tribune Interactive Inc. is established


  • Tribune acquires WATL(TV) Atlanta and WNOL-TV New Orleans
  • Tribune acquires The Times Mirror Co., adding eight newspapers: Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, Newsday (New York), Hoy (New York), The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.), The Hartford Courant, Greenwich Time (Greenwich, Conn.), and The Advocate (Stamford, Conn.). The $8.3 billion transaction is the largest acquisition in newspaper-industry history.
  • Tribune Entertainment launches Andromeda in syndication.
  • Orlando Sentinel launches Spanish-language version.


  • Tribune acquires WTTV(TV) Indianapolis.
  • Chicago Tribune Co. acquires Chicago magazine
  • Sun-Sentinel launches el Sentinel.
  • Chicago Tribune launches RedEye edition aimed at young-adult audience; Chicago Sun-Times begins copycat edition The Red Streak. Both are universally panned.

Tribune acquires KPLR-TV St. Louis and KWBP(TV) Portland, Ore.