Michael Oneal's Monday article, “Lenders may get control of Tribune Co.” suggests that unnamed sources are putting forward a plan to take the Tribune Co. out of the control of Sam Zell. However much employees and readers are taken with the idea that Zell and his minions would be shown out the door onto Michigan Avenue, the story refuses to give names.
Sources, what soures are we discussing? “A source with knowledge of the situation... “ Okay, that would be someone in what camp? Zell's, the creditors?
Later in the story it is bankruptcy experts. Which bankruptcy experts? Who are these experts? Why won't they, at least be named? They said the outline of the plan to take Zell out of control of Tribune Co. raises questions about whether the senior lender group “would want to retain Zell and his management team...” Wow! Do 'ya think?
More sources, apparently multiple sources this time, as they are close to the creditors and the company, said it is too early... Could this be a single source or multiple sources? Zell is both a creditor and close to the company. Is it Zell?
Then it is Zell's team that are quoted. Who is Zell's team? Don't they want to be quoted? Then Oneal quotes Howard Seife, who represents some of the creditors in the bankruptcy. He doesn't sound like the source. And, he was quoted.
Then more sources, the same sources? Different sources? Who knows. Why are all these sources hiding their identity? What is it that they have to say that demands the paper provide anonymity? A new source, yet another source? says management's reorganization plan may be months away. That couldn't come from someone in TribCo? Surely someone would be able to say that? Why is that made anonymous?
Yet another source then seems to contradict what Howard Seife says. But they aren't challenged on what appears to be a contradiction.
This story ends with two additional sources. I feel as though we're looking for the Nile here. I've lost track of the sources, don't know how many there are, why they may be floating this idea and as far as I can see in a search, this is the first published mention of this idea.
It hit Romenesko already. Tomorrow people will be quoting it like gospel. But what does it really say? It's hard to tell.