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What Happened to the Tronc-Axios Partnership?

The potential efficiencies sounded so sweet. Arlington news startup Axios, the Wall Street Journal reported in January, was in talks to provide its bullet-pointed DC-insider coverage to the Los Angeles Times and perhaps even other newspapers owned by the media conglomerate Tronc.

Such a partnership would seem to make sense: Tronc, which had done an impressive job stripping resources and morale from its papers, could sprinkle a little of Axios’s buzz over the Times. Its newsroom was already reeling from the announcement of an investigation into its publisher and CEO, Ross Levinsohn, following a devastating account of his behavior. Levinsohn’s hand-picked top editor, Lewis D’Vorkin, had baffled Times employees with a fixation on GIFs and buzzwords; he also launched a  probe to find out who leaked audio of newsroom meetings.

Through all the agita, though, Tronc (a widely reviled rebranding for the company formerly known as Tribune Publishing) maintained a Washington, DC, bureau that served not just the Times but other Tronc properties like the Chicago Tribune, the Hartford Courant, and the Orlando Sentinel. The potential Axios deal reportedly sounded to some staffers like Tronc planned to ax, or at least downsize, the outpost.

D’Vorkin left. Tronc left, selling the Times to Patrick Soon-Shiong and recalling Levinsohn to Chicago. Tronc left itself, finally deciding to change its godawful name. And the DC bureau, which Soon-Shiong said Tronc was planning to gut, conveyed with the Times with an agreement to continue serving the other papers for a while.

But where does all this leave Axios? It’s doing fine: adding cash and newsroom jobs, even moving into swanky new digs. And the Tronc partnership? The parties talked, but nothing came of the effort, Axios spokesperson Megan Swiatkowski tells Washingtonian.

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Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously the news editor and lead media reporter for the Poynter Institute, arts editor for the now completely vanished TBD.com, and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.