Tribune Company Cleans House, Hoping To Finally Leave Bankruptcy
As the Tribune Company has been sitting in bankruptcy for two years, its culture has followed similar lines.
The company's board has now realized that if it wants to change its balance sheet, it must also change its notoriously juvenile culture.
In apparent response to David Carr's expose of sexism and other unprofessionalism at Chicago Tribune HQ, the company has accepted the resignation of Chief Innovation Officer Lee Abrams, and CEO Randy Michaels may be the next to go.
The Courthouse News Service reports that as Tribune's board continues negotiations to get the struggling organization out of bankruptcy, it needs senior leadership it can trust.
After real estate magnate Sam Zell's debt-laden takeover in 2007, few things have gone right for the company, which also owns the LA Times, Baltimore Sun, and several television affiliates.
As the Wall Street Journal reports: "Tribune was quickly undone by sharp advertising declines at its newspapers, which heightened the pressure from the company's roughly $13 billion in debt."
Carr's report indicated that sexual harassment was a common occurrence at Tribune, as was a tendency for Zell's senior leadership to run roughshod over their employees while remaining oblivious to the actual business of running a media company.
This included Abrams, who gained a reputation as a "resident goofball," sending rambling memos to the staff.
His last memo struck the wrong chord with Tribune leadership:
"The e-mail, the latest in a weekly series of free-form observations and exhortations Abrams sent to all Tribune Co. employees in hopes of inspiring them to reconsider print and broadcast conventions, included links to video newscast parodies. One, which contained profanity and nudity, was labeled 'Sluts.'"
CEO Michaels' mix of bad business decisions and off-color leadership could cost him his job Tuesday, but the board has said it may not make a decision. Juggling bankruptcy and management change, it will want to get things right this time.
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