The Year Tribune Company Became A Joke
The Sun-Times was already a joke on several levels, including its ownership, before 2008, but while the Tribune and Tribune Co. have always had their share of problems, they weren't jokes worthy of pure ridicule until this year. Here are two press releases the new Tribune Company put out that neatly bookend, I think, how lame this venerable institution actually became.
( I almost picked another moment instead to illustrate the point - when Tribune reporters e-mailed me asking if I thought Sam Zell was for real because they were so excited to find a cardboard cutout or somesuch of Bob Dylan in Trib Tower with the lyric, "the times, they are a-changin'," to which I could only try to suppress the urge to throw up on several levels, but no, I think these do nicely.)
Note to Tribune Company: The only thing worse than not being funny is trying to be funny and thinking you've succeeded when you haven't even gotten close.
Secondary Note to Tribune Company: You can't change organizational culture with slogans and press releases.
Addendum to Secondary Note to Tribune Company: While irreverence is welcome, facts are not to be trifled with by a news organization. Duh.
Here we go.
1. Tribune Company Press Release, April 7, 2008. This is real, folks.
Surely You Can't Be Serious? Marc Chase - President Of Tribune Interactive!
Randy Michaels' run of acquiring radio-management stars came to a screeching halt today with Chase's appointment
CHICAGO, April 7, 2008 -- Another freaking Clear Channel Communications executive on the payroll and this one's been named President of Tribune Interactive.
Tribune Broadcasting's Randy Michaels' past finally caught up with him when Marc Chase obviously blackmailed his way into a position he is not remotely qualified to hold. Insiders are irate. Chase is a fraud. A source inside Tribune HR, who wished to remain anonymous, pointed out that Marc Chase's resume (below) was obviously fabricated. First of all, his name isn't even Marc Chase--it's Mark Thompson. The whole thing is a sham.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington DC 20500 202-456-1111
Vocabulary Advisorist for George W. Bush
President of the United States of America
Washington DC, 2004-present
President of Buying Crap
San Jose, California 2003-2004
Executive Vice President of Finding Crap Anywhere
Mountain View, California 2001-2002
Senior Executive Vice President of Technology and Stuff
Seattle, Washington, 2000-2001
CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX Television
Vice President of Watching TV A Lot
Los Angeles, California 1999-2000
Dean of School of Internetology
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1998
Nearly Graduated with Honers
School of Alabama in Atlanta Georgia 1985
400 Hours (reduced from 600)
Judge gave time off for good behavior
Chase was quoted as saying, "Timing and infrared photography are everything. I couldn't be happier! I know Randy is relieved to finally have me on Sam's payroll."
Tribune has undergone major changes in the past year, with billionaire Sam Zell acquiring the company last April in a complex deal that left it with $13 billion in debt. Since then, Zell has brought in new executives to fill key roles. This one takes the cake.
Last December, Zell hired Michaels -- who helped Zell to build Clear Channel into a radio behemoth that he could then sell -- to oversee Tribune's broadcast and Internet divisions. It is obvious Michaels has lost his mind with this hire.
--By Hugh Jass - A Reputable Media Source
©2008, Bogus Information, a division of Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe. All Rights Reserved.
» Media Contacts:
TRIBUNE is America's largest employee-owned media company, operating businesses in publishing, interactive and broadcasting. In publishing, Tribune's leading daily newspapers include the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Newsday (Long Island, N.Y.), The Sun (Baltimore), South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel and Hartford Courant. The company's broadcasting group operates 23 television
stations, Superstation WGN on national cable, Chicago's WGN-AM and the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Popular news and information websites complement Tribune's print and broadcast properties and extend the company's nationwide audience. The company is also becoming known for its sense of humor and for not taking itself or the industries in which it operates too seriously.
Um, about that last line . . . the company was not and is not "becoming known for its sense of humor," though it was and is becoming known for its enormous debt load and shriveling revenue.
2. Tribune Company Press Release, December 15, 2008. Lessons not learned.
Ed Wilson "Sells Out" as New Tribune Chief Revenue Officer!
Hopes to "Sell Out" Inventory to Help Advertisers Move Products and
Grow Tribune's Operating Cash Flow
Takes Job At Local Starbucks As First Step
CHICAGO, December 15, 2008 -- Tribune Company today appointed Ed Wilson as chief revenue officer with responsibility for growing the company's publishing, broadcasting and interactive revenues. He remains president of Tribune Broadcasting, overseeing the company's 23 television stations, WGN America, and WGN Radio. His appointment is effective immediately.
"In the ten months he's been here, Ed has rebuilt Tribune Broadcasting and completely changed its culture," said Randy Michaels, Tribune's chief operating officer. "His eye for talent and his determination have created an environment that rewards innovation and hard work, and delivers results for our advertising customers -- I'm confident he'll have the same impact across the rest of the company."
Wilson joined Tribune after serving as president of the Fox Television Network from 2004 to 2008. In this position, he was responsible for network sports and entertainment sales, legal standards and practices, and Fox's 200 affiliated stations.
"We've really stepped up our sales efforts this year and we're seeing solid results, but we've got to do even more for our advertisers," said Wilson. "That means developing new products and new, innovative ways of reaching audiences across all our platforms -- internet, broadcasting and print. It means being aggressive and smart."
Known for his ability to work long hours on little sleep, Wilson also will man the night-owl shift at the Starbucks down the street from Tribune Tower. "With this third job, I'll have access to free coffee," Wilson said, "which means I'll have the stamina and energy for my two jobs at Tribune -- and I'll contribute a portion of my Starbucks' paycheck to the company as a way of kick-starting new-revenue generation."
Prior to working with Fox, Wilson served in executive positions with NBC and CBS. In 2000, he helped found NBC Enterprises and served as its first president. In that capacity he supervised foreign and domestic syndication, merchandising, licensing, music and publishing, as well as domestic and foreign co-productions and co-ventures. Prior to that, Wilson was president and CEO of CBS Enterprises and Entertainment.
In 1994, Wilson founded his own syndication company, MaXaM Entertainment, in partnership with A.H. Belo Corp. The company was sold to CBS in January 1996. His career began in 1980 as a sales trainee for Viacom. Let's face it, the man's driven.
Wilson was born and raised in Rison, Ark., and he is a graduate of the University of Arkansas. He is married and has two children.
TRIBUNE is America's largest employee-owned media company, operating businesses in publishing, interactive and broadcasting. In publishing, Tribune's leading daily newspapers include the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, Sun-Sentinel (South Florida), Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant, Morning Call and Daily Press. The Company's broadcasting group operates 23 television stations, WGN America on national cable, Chicago's WGN-AM and the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Popular news and information websites complement Tribune's print and broadcast properties and extend the Company's nationwide audience. At Tribune we take what we do seriously and with a great deal of pride. We also value the creative spirit and are nurturing a corporate culture that doesn't take itself too seriously.
It's nice not to take yourself too seriously, but when you demean your own work, that's another thing altogether. What remains to be seen in 2009 is if the Tribune Company takes journalism seriously anymore - and the warning signs don't look good.
Posted on December 30, 2008