Wall St. Is Closing In On Dennis FitzSimons
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.