Sunday, December 19, 2004

Tribune CEO Makes Vain Plea For Unity

An e-mail received by L.A. Times employees from Dennis FitzSimmons, CEO of the Tribune Co., has only exacerbated feelings of many employees that he and his executive associates in Chicago have mistreated The Times.

Addressed to "fellow-employees," FitzSimmons' message calls the Tribune and the papers it purchased from Times-Mirror one company and appeals for unity.

But this is the same man who flew to the Burbank Airport with another executive soon after The Times won five Pulitzers this year, didn't even go downtown, summoned Times Editor John S. Carroll and Managing Editor Dean Baquet to the airport, and summarily informed them they were going to have to cut staff and expenses?

Even Mark Willes had the courtesy, after all, to go to New York Newsday and meet with the staff the day before he killed off that paper. FitzSimmons isn't closing down The Times, but he has been stripping it of some of its proudest appendages.

In killing The Los Angeles Times National Edition and moving its Washington bureau from I to F St., amalgamating it with other Tribune bureaus, the Tribune Co. will be delivering a body blow to Times morale and prestige. It's a far cry from promises made when the company bought The Times that the paper would be improved.

"Fellow-employees?" This seems to be corporate-speak. Some believe it reflects a situation where the Chicago Tribune, unable to match The Times in quality, seeks to impinge on California interests in what may be a fit of jealousy. After all, Chicago cannot match Los Angeles in most respects.

The solution is for the Tribune to sell The Times to Californians who will care for the newspaper as much as Otis Chandler did. I'm sure Mr. FitzSimmons is normally a nice man with managerial talents, but in the case of The Times he and the Tribune Co. have been behaving badly.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any ideas on who in California would want the Times? The paper historically never made much profit. Who would pay the $1 billion or more required? Riordan? Eli Broad? Larry Ellison? Murdoch? These guys are used to buying companies that MAKE MONEY!

12/19/2004 10:55 AM  
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