We should honor the six-month anniversary of a number of key Chicago events. First it was the fourth quarter of 2007 when the Sun-Times Media Group announced it had initiated a $50 Million program of cost savings. The newspaper, whose stock price per share dipped below the regular retail price of the daily paper in the next quarter, also put itself up for bids: you could bid on all of the company or any of its parts.
I'm personally interested in owning the vending machine in the VMF, used by the helpers. But, that message of interest has not been taken seriously.
The $50 million cost reduction program is inadequate. $50 Million in annual savings is not enough to stem the cash hemorrhage. It's hard to know what to make of a company run by a turn-around expert who doesn't realize that his plans are inadequate to the task.
There haven't been any announced indications of interest for any of the company's parts since the sale of some or all of the company was announced months ago. Is the company is such a sad state that nothing is worth a fire sale price? Well, yes. That is exactly the case. No one is interested in any parts of the company even at fire sale prices.
So, a failed fire sale and an inadequate cost savings program, the legacy of the turn-around expert. Let's put this on the table to consider too: perhaps if there were different people in your key operations positions, you wouldn't be in this situation. All of those outsiders brought in to turn things around? They depend on the same old bunch of genius' that got the STMG into this mess.
I won't be convinced something is changing till I see names of some operations department senior management on the layoff list.
Next. It is also just past the six-month anniversary of the rescue of the Tribune Co. by Sam Zell. Of course we celebrated this event with two editorial executives leaving: Ann Marie Lipinski and David Hiller. Why was it so important to the powers that be at the Tribune Co. to smear David Hiller on the way out? That is the only conclusion I can make of the smear that Hiller didn't move fast enough, leaked from inside the Tribune.
Where did that come from? Well I got it from Jim Romenesko, who quoted Los Angeles Times writer Michael A Hittzik. Hittzik, in turn, doesn't bother to discuss his sources for the following quote, "The Times' performance under Hiller has been particularly disappointing. The paper has experienced the steepest drop in cash flow of any in the Tribune chain of 11 daily newspapers. Hiller also acquired a reputation among Tribune brass as an indecisive leader, according to senior Times executives."
This is the newspaper business, Hittzik; couldn't you find someone to go on the record with that serious attack on Hiller? For myself, I apologize for reproducing it in this blog. It's anonymous and I suspect it. Period.
Here's one back at you Hittzik, what do you
call a lazy reporter who can't source anonymous self-serving and
Next, what will it take to shut the Tribune Co.'s chief innovator up? Speaking just for myself, I am tired of playing find the typos. Hey duffus, first, get a god-damn haircut. Second, that key F7? Press it before you submit your blog. It will help make you sound educated enough to spell correctly.
Needless to say it hasn't been going well for Zell and his crew either. The broadcasting portion of the Tower's empire looks like it is taking pages from the Clear Channel 1990's play book. And that's so 20th Century in my opinion. And, they are lost in trying to find footing for the newspapers. They want to be European? Like the Sun? Or another tabloid? Oh God help me! Let's let the Onion and the Chicago Sun-Times, who actually have editors who understand how to write an eye-catching and blood curdling headline deal with this? Please?
If the Tribune Co. thinks these tabloids have a future, why not start a national paper based on this idea? Here, write Tell Sam: Lou Grant thinks a National newspaper, with a staff in some hot spot, such as New York or LA, should prepare a tabloid, just like the New York Post. The local papers can print it and distribute it. Local pages, inside, would localize it for editorial and advertising.
You all may laugh, but I want to win the innovator's award. Just please, when you submit it to Tell Sam, add my name? We can put the chief innovator in charge of it and find some out of work journalists from the Trib's own stable (former stable) to write and edit the thing. I bet it would be a hit and a hoot to read too. As far as journalism goes, isn't this what the Daily Show is doing to broadcast news?
So help me, if I see it on the Tell Sam page without attribution, I'm calling you out, if I can. I want credit!
Here's another idea, it's from letters to Romenesko: "Editorial cartoons have potent impact...as does photography. These are two elements that we gotta mobilize!" This idea is from Lee Abrams. Abrams, a newer Tribune employee, is apparently not aware the Chicago Tribune decided not to fill its editorial cartoonist position. As letter writer Gary Dretzka points out, that position was never filled because in pre-Zell days, the company wanted to save money on the position.
That one-day orientation on Tribune culture and history that Zell got rid of? At least one person should take it: Abrams.