Formerly a daily newspaper, the Tribune resulted from the combination of local newspapers acquired by Cox Enterprises: The Tempe Daily News, the Mesa Tribune, the Scottsdale Progress, and the Chandler Arizonan.
In 1891, Mesa's first newspaper, the Evening Weekly Free Press, was founded by attorney Alfred P. Shewman and Judge W.D. Morton. In 1899, Judge W.D. Morton sold out to Shewman, who died in 1901. Frank T. Pomeroy and Harry D. Haines bought the paper in 1910 and converted into a daily publication, The Evening Press. In 1911, the paper was sold and in 1913 became the Mesa Daily Tribune. In 1925 the paper was renamed the Mesa Daily Journal. In 1928 it was published as the Daily Mesa Evening Journal. In 1932 Southside Publishing Company, a corporation of Mesa and Chandler businessmen, acquired ownership. Over the next 7 years stock was purchased by P.R. Mitten and his son, Charles. In 1939 Charles Mitten bought out his father's share. Mitten began printing the paper 5 days a week after World War II under the name of the Mesa Daily Tribune. In 1950 Mitten sold the Tribune to David W. Calvert.
In 1952, the Tribune Publishing Company was incorporated. On January 26, 1956, the Tribune publishing plant on Macdonald Street was destroyed by fire and opened five months later at 120 W. 1st Avenue, where it remains today. In 1977, Cox Enterprises of Atlanta, Georgia, purchased the Tribune from Calvert.
Cox Newspapers purchased the Tempe Daily News in 1980, the Chandler Arizonan in 1983, started the Gilbert Tribune in 1990, and purchased the Scottsdale Progress in 1993. Cox Newspapers sold its newspaper holdings to Thomson Newspapers in December 1996 and in May 1997, under the leadership of its publisher, Karen Wittmer, all five newspapers were combined into one newspaper, The Tribune, serving eastern Maricopa County with a Scottsdale edition serving its northern communities.
In December 1997, the Daily News-Sun in Sun City, Arizona, and the Ahwatukee Foothills News, on the southeastern border of Phoenix, in November 1998, joined the Tribune as part of its Phoenix SMG (Strategic Marketing Group). In December 1999, the Tribune was renamed the East Valley Tribune and in August 2000, Thomson Newspapers sold its Arizona newspaper holdings to Freedom Communications, Inc. of Irvine, California
On October 6, 2008, publisher Julie Moreno announced that newspaper would cease publishing in Scottsdale and Tempe in 2009 and publish only four days a week in the remainder of its circulation area at that time. More than 140 staff members' jobs were eliminated with the move. The newspaper said it would publish four distinct editions serving Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and Queen Creek.
On April 20, 2009, the Tribune was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting; the paper had run a five-part series on how the efforts of Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio against illegal immigrants detracted from quality of law enforcement services provided by his agency. By the time the award was announced, Paul Giblin had been laid off during a round of Tribune cutbacks and Ryan Gabrielson left the following summer.
Freedom Communications filed for Chapter 11 reorganization on September 1, 2009, in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware. As a result, on November 2, 2009, the East Valley Tribune announced that it would cease operations on December 31, 2009. However, a new buyer was found, and the Tribune, the Daily News-Sun, the Ahwatukee Foothills News, Glendale/Peoria Today and Surprise Today were sold to 10/13 Communications LLC, an affiliate of Boulder, Colorado-based Thirteenth Street Media. The transaction was approved by the bankruptcy judge in March 2010, as part of Freedom's reorganization process. The Tribune continued operations while the sale was pending. 10/13 Communications already owned a free-distribution weekly called the Explorer, serving Oro Valley and Marana in north suburban Tucson.
Today, the East Valley Tribune publishes every Wednesday, and Sunday of each week reaching over 260,000 people in Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Apache Junction and Queen Creek. The East Valley Tribune's Sunday edition includes enhanced distribution in Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Queen Creek, and Ahwatukee, reaching a total circulation of over 150,000 Distribution reaches nearly 30% of all East Valley households in home delivery zip codes. 80% of distribution is driveway delivered to homes in targeted communities, and the remaining is distributed through racks and in high traffic locations including light rail stations,convenience stores, and popular gas stations. This form of hybrid distribution is extremely effective because of the intense targeting.
On October 8, 2011, Terry Horne was named publisher and editor of the East Valley Tribune. He is a 35-year veteran media executive with a successful track record in both print and digital businesses.
In late January 2016, Scottsdale-based Times Media Group, established by entrepreneur Steve Strickbine in 1997 and the owner of 15 local community news publications (including College Times, Scottsdale Airpark News and the website Phoenix.org.), acquired the East Valley Tribune and Ahwatukee Foothills News from 10/13 Communications and immediately assumed day-to-day operations; 10/13's other Arizona community newspapers were not included in the sale.