Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Wall St. Is Closing In On Dennis FitzSimons

Thanks to Kevin Roderick's L.A. Observed, we can see that Wall St. is steadily closing in on the inept Dennis FitzSimons, the always clueless CEO of the Tribune Co.

Surely, some time this year, FitzSimons will be through, and I would guess it might happen the next time the L.A. Times posts its circulation numbers. A continuing fall of circulation could well result in the ouster of a witless leader who might be better qualified to run a Chicago hot dog stand than the Tribune Co.

L.A. Observed reports there is "tough talk in Crain's Chicago Business about the L.A. Times being a serious drag on the Tribune Co.--and charging way more for ads than the waning circulation numbers justify."

I like pungent quotes, and there is none more pungent in Crain's than from Edward J. Atorino of Benchmark & Co.

"They've been throwing anything they can think of at that paper (the Times) and nothing seems to work," says Atorino. "Wall St. likes the company (really????), and we love Dennis (like the Italian people loved Mussolini at the end), but if results don't start improving...it's going to be merciless."

I was trying in my mind to define "merciless." I would guess it means FitzSimons would be rendered to a meat grinder, feet first, as he screamed all the way.

And doesn't he deserve it? Isn't he the man who pays himself more each year, as he fires people and destroys careers?

The same Crain's report tells us that Tribune Publishing President Scott Smith, another nebish of the first order, in a recent conference with Wall St. analysts, said the pace of advertising revenue in L.A. slowed in the first nine months of 2005, and declined 3% during the fourth quarter, with total ad lineage dropping 13%.

No surprise there, when you consider the Tribune Co. employes absolutely the most spiritless ad salesmen L.A. has ever seen, according to what I'm told.

Meanwhile, the L.A. Weekly reports its ad revenues grew 8% in 2005.

No really late word here about circulation. But there is very little evidence that FitzSimons, Smith or their L.A. flunky, publisher Jeff Johnson, really have an effective circulation drive under way.

The Tribune board has to be unhappy. They've got to be getting the long knives out for these fellows' necks.


Blogger Ed Padgett said...

Well Ken, Wall Street may be closing in, but until then FitzSimons and his boys just raked in some nice bonuses.

FitzSimons was given 60,000 restricted Tribune shares, 300,000 shares of stock options, and a bonus of $250,000.

Not bad for a company that is downsizing and losing circulation and ad revenue.


2/22/2006 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think, if Fitzsimmons goes down, that this will mean some editorial changes? Like in the weak, weak features sections.

2/25/2006 2:20 PM  
Blogger Phil Krakover said...

This all goes back to the disasterous non-leadership of John Carroll, a man beatified by our host, Mr. Reich, and followed by Mr. Baquet. Changing faces has not changed policy.

No matter how anti-Semetic the invectives, subtle or not so suttle, Ken would complain about the language, or the lack of use of language ad infinitum, but Carroll somehow, as a "leader" always got a pass from Ken, and still does.

This city is not all liberal knee jerk lefties. There are plenty of moderates, and even some conservatives (@22%, actually).

So, who do you think used to buy the LA Times? Certainly not the impoverished who could barely afford food and lodging. And, who bought the products advertised in the paper?

And Carroll incessantly insulted our intelligence by his absurd "moral equivalence" doctrine of treating the cold blooded killers of innocent men, women and children in the same way as the victims who tried to fight back and resist. Never the words "killers" "murderers", "fanatics". Instead, we got (and still get) "freedom fighters", "insurgents", "resistance" and "foreign fighters". As Dr. Phil would say, "I am stupified".

Well, thousands cancelled their subscriptions, me among them.

I now get a call once every two weeks asking, then begging me to come back. They write me incessantly with junk mail asking me to come back.


If FitzSimons wants to know how to get out of this mess, it's easy.

Dump the who lot of them, and get back the old timers to run the newspaper like a newspaper and not a cash cow slot machine or some crusading liberal sheet, headed by the Kinsleys, and the rest of them. Getting rid of Kinsley and Scheer did nothing to change the basic reporting and editing of the Times we know today. It is insidious and self selecting.

Myopic as he can be on occassion, Ken was still a superb reporter, and you never had to worry about his offending or not offending someone by shading his story. He really called them as he saw them.

He was an equal opportunity abuser, and that makes for good story and keeps us coming back for more.

Jeff Johnson, are you listening?

It is your job, you F***ing Imbecile. You better be iistening or you are hopelessly cloistered and really have no change to survive.

As opinionated as this blog might be, it still is on target for your work assignment. You learn nothing from the "yes" men with whom you are surrounded.

A total overhaul; nothing less. And bring in local partners and get to be a part of the fabric of Los Angeles, not a butt-boy for the Chicago Tribune Board.

2/25/2006 8:30 PM  

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