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The [Thursday] Papers

I'm assured this is real: Highlights from new Tribune Company owner Sam Zell's employee handbook. It sounds too good to be true - and represents a wholesale culture change from the TribCo of old.


UPDATE 7:30 A.M.: Crap, the Los Angeles Times already has this story. As does The Washington Post. At least I beat the Chicago Tribune. Here goes.


* Rule 1. Use your best judgment. "Unless we made a serious mistake when we hired you, you have good judgment. You know what it takes to succeed."

* Because it "has always been done that way" or because "the boss said so" aren't reasons for doing anything.

* Keep your word. If you promise something to a reader, you are expected to uphold it.

* Playing bagpipes in the newsroom is annoying and considered bad judgment.

* Coming to work drunk is bad judgment.

* Play to win.

* Play fair. But there is nothing unfair about taking advantage of a competitor's weakness.

* The Tribune will not snoop in your email

* Cyber Slacking is not good judgment.

* Question Authority. You are an employee owner and have the right and obligation to ask questions

* Emergencies and disasters are times for "all hands on deck." If this is not in your DNA, perhaps the Tribune Company is not the place for you.

* Working at the Tribune means accepting a creative, quirky, intelligent, odd, humorous, diverse, opinionated and sometimes annoying atmosphere. Working at the Tribune means sometimes hearing words that you, personally, may not use. You might hear a joke that you might not consider funny. That is because a loose, fun, linear atmosphere is important to the creative process. This is understood and should not be considered harassment.

* If your boss demands a date in exchange for a raise or promotion, that's harassment.

Obama In The News
* Obama approvingly says Reagan - not Clinton - "changed the trajectory of America."

Methinks Obama needs a history lesson. When Reagan was elected in 1980, he wasn't yet the Morning in America president but still the scary nutcase who might blow up the world.

Reagan went on - and Obama should be careful of comparison here - to be a warm and inspirational figure known as The Great Communicator even as homeless folks filled up our cities, AIDS spread unabated and ignored, the manufacturing base of our economy disappeared and the largest budget deficits in history (until now) accumulated.

George H.W. Bush, despite a heinous 1988 presidential campaign, brought a degree of sanity back to the White House. Bill Clinton - campaigning as a moderate who could unite the country with his "third way" - moved the country forward.

* Obama promises a Reagan-like management style.

* Paul Krugman says Obama is the least progressive of the three leading Democratic contenders.

* Newsweek calls Obama "The Incremental Revolutionary." In other words, he's an incrementalist not a change agent but but they still can't bring themselves to fully admit they've been had.

* "At a town hall meeting here, Barack Obama is calling for change in how business is done in Washington. Yet later in the day, when he flies to California for a series of fund-raisers and other campaign events, he still refuses to disclose all his fund-raising activities or who is hosting events for him," Lynn Sweet reports.

"Last week, after I and some other reporters raised a fuss, the Obama campaign decided to disclose events held in places they deemed 'public' and let a pool reporter in to cover. That is laudable. But not enough. For example, today Obama is going to Pacific Palisades - near Los Angeles - for a high dollar elite donor fund-raising event, and the campaign did not deem it worth to put on his 'public schedule.'"

That's because Obama prefers news stories about his grass-roots support rather than any spotlight on the big rollers - the ones he decries have too much influence in politics - backing his campaign.

Something Stinks
"How many sewer-cleaning trucks does the City of Chicago own? City Hall won't say, nor answer other questions about sewer cleaning," Tim Novak reports.

"Not since the Sun-Times revealed last month that Mayor Daley's son Patrick once had a secret ownership stake in a sewer-inspection company that saw its city business soar."

Something's Rotten
"The Tribune reported Wednesday that Ilana Rosenzweig, head of the Independent Police Review Authority, plans to hire outside attorneys and private investigators to help tackle some of the 1,500 pending cases of alleged excessive force and other wrongdoing filed against officers," the paper notes today.

""There's nothing wrong with that," Daley said.

Um, yes there is. There's a huge backlog and you've just promised reform but you aren't putting money where your mouth is.

"These are very, very difficult, challenging cases and she has to be very professional about it," the Sun-Times quotes the mayor saying despite the total irrelevance of a statement that shouldn't have seen the light of day. (Why not just write, "The mayor had nothing coherent to say"? It's the truth, after all.)

The question is why the mayor isn't fully funding the office. After all, we're now paying our police chief $300,000 a year, not mention "new TIF deals for a former alderman, a wealthy private hospital, and a big car dealer."

Budgets reflect priorities.


And by the way, the media shouldn't use the name "Independent Police Review Authority" unless it is identified as "the mayor's Independent Police Review Authority."

Blind Baker
"While Bud Selig and Donald Fehr were once again the guys at the congressional witness table Tuesday, the day's biggest losers were Miguel Tejada, San Francisco Giants owner Peter Magowan and Giants general manager Brian Sabean," the Tribune's Phil Rogers wrote on Wednesday.

"Magowan and Sabean . . . are described in the Mitchell report as turning a blind eye to Bonds' alleged steroid use . . . Magowan and Sabean may be the first in management to take a fall.

"In response to questioning, Selig said he was considering disciplinary action against Magowan and Sabean.

"The guess here is that he might give both long timeouts, citing the precedent set when Bowie Kuhn suspended George Steinbrenner in 1990 and Selig suspended the late Marge Schott in '96."

And what about Dusty Baker? It's safe to assume that he knew more than Magowan and Sabean, isn't it?

Business Model
"I don't think this company has been particularly well run in the past," Zell said in a visit to Newsday.

"One reason for this, he suggested, is that Tribune - which owns seven major newspapers, 34 television stations and the Chicago Cubs baseball team, among other properties - has been run as a 'media conglomerate' rather than 'a conglomerate of media companies."

In other words, Zell is repudiating the central premise Tribune Company has operated on since its ill-fated acquisition of Times-Mirror - a premise that cost a lot of folks their jobs even as it was vigorously defended by many newsroom managers blindly following corporate marching orders instead of engaging in reasonable discussion of the company's strategy and goals. Imagine that.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Goal-oriented.


Posted on January 17, 2008

MUSIC - Riding Illinois' Storm Out.
TV - How White Republicans See BLM.
POLITICS - Car Wash Workers Finally Win.
SPORTS - Cubs Screwing FO - And Themselves.

BOOKS - How Comics Make Sounds.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Illinois Caverns Reopening After 10 Years.

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