“We are continuing to invest in high quality journalism, which will always be the company’s top priority,” Justin C. Dearborn, the chief executive of Tronc, said in a statement. He called Mr. Kirk a “talented news veteran” and Mr. Rich “a well-established media professional.”
Mr. Rich revitalized The Daily News with attention-grabbing front pages that often went on the attack against Republican figures, including Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and Donald J. Trump. After Mr. Trump won the New Hampshire primary during the 2016 presidential campaign, the Daily News front page included an image of the candidate in clown makeup with the headline “Dawn of the Brain Dead — Trump comes back to life with N.H. win.”
Mr. Rich, 46, oversaw a 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning project at The Daily News. His departure from the tabloid shocked staff members but he will now take over for Arthur Browne, who retired at the end of December.
Tronc, which publishes daily newspapers including The Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun, is coming off a bruising past several days marked by rising turmoil in the Times newsroom. Less than two weeks ago, the publisher of The Times, Ross Levinsohn, was put on leave following a report that included allegations of sexual harassment against him while he was at other companies. On the same day, the paper’s newsroom said it had voted to unionize.
The confluence of developments ignited long-smoldering discontent among newsroom employees, many of whom said the company was not being forthcoming with information about the paper and its strategy for the future.
Tronc is also dealing with sexual harassment allegations against two top editors at The Daily News, which the company acquired in September.
Mr. Kirk, who joined Tronc in August, had previously served as the interim executive editor of The Times and the interim editor in chief of The Daily News. His appointment was largely met with a sense of relief within The Times newsroom but also a recognition that his appointment will not undo years of frustration among employees or rid the paper of its underlying financial challenges.
The appointments appeared intended to tamp down the escalating dissatisfaction at The Times and The Daily News that threatened to seep across the company.