When Sam Zell took over the Tribune Company last year, I was cautiously optimistic. He seemed to have a healthy urgency about changing the hidebound thinking at the company and its newspapers.
But as recent months have demonstrated, the only thing more dangerous than a stodgy bureaucracy is a a leader bent on destroying it without the skills and ideas to build anew.
Zell, who pledged a new dawn at the Trib and other media properties, is instead recycling the worst ideas spawned by three decades of desperation over falling newspaper circulation.
Cut reporters? Yup, done that.
Kill sections? Yup, done that.
Redesign featuring huge photos and headlines to mask lack of content? Yup, got that.
Over the weekend, as news trickled out that Tribune is eyeing a bankruptcy filing, it became clear: Zell doesn't have the goods.
He took over the Tribune with a pile of hubris and borrowed money, but no game plan.
At this point, it's time for Zell to acknowledge that he doesn't have what it takes to move the company forward, and to limit the damage to that which he's already inflicted.
And it's time for the Tribune's employee-owners to demand that he go. Immediately.