Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Tribune CEO's Memo Says Today's 'New York Times' Story is All Lies

OH RANDYIf you have not read the new David Carr piece on Tribune Company, I suggest you do, and I promise that even if you do not usually care about words like "newspapers" and "Chicago" and "bankruptcy" and "a collection of carnival workers," you will still enjoy it mightily. And then you can come read the memo that Tribune's Randy Michaels put out companywide last night in response. It follows, and it's really ridiculous.

From: Tribune Communications
Sent: Tue Oct 05 20:09:33 2010
Subject: Message from Randy Michaels/Anticipated Column About Tribune

We have been informed that tomorrow's New York Times will run a column written by David Carr ( Many of the questions Mr. Carr asked us for this article concerned events, distortions and rumors more than two years old. He will apparently paint the work environment at Tribune as hostile, sexist and otherwise inappropriate. Many of the rumors Mr. Carr referenced were spread by an ex-Chicago Tribune employee who is now a contributing writer to the New York Times. Mr. Carr has made clear that he is digging up these old allegations because he believes that decisions about the company's management are about to be made, and he wants to influence those decisions. Mr. Carr knows that an outside firm investigated the most substantial of these allegations, and that they were found to be without substance. Mr. Carr intends to use them anyway.

As you know, it is our intention to create a fun, non-linear creative environment. I am tremendously proud of the results of that creative culture. Our websites on the P2P platform are the most advanced in media. We have reconfigured production of the newspaper with standard ad sizes, Media on Demand Modules, and combined editing, design, and layout functions using technology. We have "Breaking News Centers" that eliminate redundancy and give newsmakers one contact point for each market's most powerful news media. TOPS, TONS, and BRUTUS have changed the way TV is produced and aired.

It is our intention to have creative environment. A creative culture must be built on a foundation of respect for each other. Our goal is an environment where people are free to speak up, free to challenge authority, and free to fail on the way to success. Our culture is NOT about being offensive or hurtful. This is supported by our Harassment Policy. It's in the Employee Handbook which is posted on TribLink-Section 3.

The fact that so many at other media companies dwell on the way it used to be creates great opportunity for those of us willing to rethink our opportunities and recast our culture. Ignore the noise. Treat each other with respect. Have fun, and let's go create the future.


My goodness. I don't know, it's like he's never read a newspaper before.

In one small part, we'll all agree with Randy Michaels-I also prefer to create workplaces where I am free to swear and be "creative"! (So does, oh right, almost anyone who's ever worked at a newspaper.) And, yes: most modern workplaces are ridiculously uptight. On the other hand, some of us have boundaries and have never bit any of our employees on the neck, as was accused of Randy Michaels in one lawsuit in the 90s. Oh and also I didn't help drain the life blood out of a corporation in the most spectacular, hideous way, leaving behind a series of newspapers that barely exist and should probably be stabbed to death. But God forbid Randy Michaels actually address the substance of the article.

32 Comments / Post A Comment

balsa_wood (#465)

Randy. That man is well first-named.

KarenUhOh (#19)

I hope they're having fun over there. Because it sure as hell isn't fun to try to read.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

They're not. It's really sad, actually. I now know a lot more former Tribune writers/editors than current ones, but it's not by any means a fun place for most employees right now.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

…There are still newspapers that are fun to work for right now?

KarenUhOh (#19)

It's quite clear this is trickle-down fun Mr. Randy has in mind. I hope he has lots of tissue.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

"We've cut back on facial and bathroom tissue expenditures for FY2011. We encourage you to use newsprint scraps for your personal hygiene."

barnhouse (#1,326)

The Los Angeles ones have been so filled with sadness all this time.

balsa_wood (#465)

"TOPS, TONS, and BRUTUS have changed the way TV is produced and aired."

This might be my favorite little bit. Because these things all sound scary.

"Try new Joker brand products!"

KarenUhOh (#19)

Don't sell us on your solid newsroom experience. We don't care. Or your exclusive, breaking news coverage. We'll pass.

Yes. Yes, you will.

jfruh (#713)

"…combined editing, design, and layout functions using technology."

That is our secret weapon! TECHNOLOGY! Our competitors are using their bare hands, but we are the Tribune-toolmakers!

From the Times : "The creditors… have acquiesced to the lucrative bonuses in part because they fear that antagonizing management could further hold up the company's emergence from bankruptcy … "

I love the smell of perverse incentives in the morning.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

The structure of the deal allowed the Tribune to become an S corporation, which pays no federal taxes, making taxpayers essentially silent partners in the deal.

I always wanted to own a newspaper!

Art Yucko (#1,321)

"We sent the Pinkerton Agency to investigate, and naturally they found all of the allegations to be specious."

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

Kudos to Tribune for giving us a new euphemism for "douchey": nonlinear.

conklin (#364)

P2P? I can get the Tribune via BearShare?

petejayhawk (#1,249)

Only in Boystown.

My morning commute has been very non-linear this week, but not fun.

I just want to speak up for my old friend linearity. He has his place. One thing after another, rhythm, reliability, steady progress, the drip-drip-drip of a scandal unfolding, you know, NEWS.

"Non-linear." Does that mean Randy has a crooked penis?

Kevin Patterson (#5,933)

That thing hasn't been seen in decades. Also, never trust a fat man.

David (#192)

Well, at least there is clarity about where the money to pay for bonuses and other allocations of profits will mainly come from: "The company recently announced the creation of a new local news format in which there would be no on-air anchors and few live reports. The newscasts will rely on narration over a stream of clips, a Web-centric approach that has the added benefit of requiring fewer bodies to produce." The revenue side is of course benefiting from what will be an ongoing rise in political advertising and spending. It's a good time to own the public air-waves.

Miles Klee (#3,657)

"He expressed surprise that The Los Angeles Times reporters covering the war in Iraq were actually there."

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

To his credit, in an era where newspapers are resorting to wraparound front page newsvertisements, it IS kind of hard to believe that a publication could afford to send reporters overseas.

Also, this is why I laugh and laugh whenever a candidate for public office uses the old "I used to run a business, so I'm qualified to run the government!" line.

Asa (#1,055)

I like how he links Carr's drug memoir instead of his NYT work. "He used to smoke crack! He can't be trusted to write about our media company 30 years later, even though it's been his job for, like, a decade!"

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

Who would have thought a shock jock wouldn't have the brains to run a newspaper?

lexalexander (#2,960)

Don't kid yourself. He's perfectly happy for Times readers to talk about the cussing and the sexism and the parties.

Because as long as they're talking about the cussing and the sexism and the parties, they're not talking about the frauds and the breaches of fiduciary responsibility and the serial RICO Act violations.

scrooge (#2,697)

I heard Zell speak a couple of times. Like many immoral people, he's actually very funny.

caw_caw (#5,641)

My favorite phrase in that memo: 'We have "Breaking News Centers"'

Well. They used to. Not sure if that's actually true anymore.

lexalexander (#2,960)

Oh, one other thing: Next time some moron tells you government needs to be run more like a business, ask if this is the business they're talking about.

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