Monday, April 02, 2007

Sam Zell Gets The Tribune Company

--Written from Sacramento

It had become ever more clear in recent days that there was no way the inferior management of Tribune Co. in Chicago would accept any bid for the company that came from Californians.

Having dedicated themselves to mistreatment of the L.A. Times, its staff, its editors and its publishers, the leader of the "axis of stupidity," the inept CEO Dennis FitzSimons, and his Chicago-lining board kept pushing Chicago real estate magnate Sam Zell to improve his bid to the level of the Los Angeles billionaires, Eli Broad and Ron Burkle, so they could sell the enterprise to him.

We'll have to wait now to see what Zell does. Already, the report is that he will sell the Chicago Cubs, and if Broad and Burkle persevere, perhaps there is still a chance the L.A. Times could be sold to them. This would be the most desirable outcome.

The New York Times story this morning emphasizes that Zell has never been a journalist and quotes him as not having a high opinion of journalists. If this is correect, more trouble may lie ahead. On the other hand, now that he has obtained control of such a substantial journalistic company, maybe Zell will change his mind about journalists and decide to run a good company.

But for the time being, Zell is keeping present management in place. That is a bad sign, because FitzSimons has spun Tribune Co. and its newspapers into greater and greater difficulty, and the Zell purchase will, at least in the short run, unless there are a series of sales, only saddle Tribune with more debt.

Altogether, this is somewhat anti-climactic after all the maneuvers of recent months.

It will be interesting now to see whether Zell comes out to L.A. and what he says when he gets here. It is possible he realizes that changes have to be made not too far down the line, if he is to realize the profits from this deal he is said to require.

But the appearance here is that of an inside deal. I suppose we can untie David Hiller. It looks as if he will be the publisher of the Times for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, maybe we should send the Tribune board some food packages. It looks like they've been eating Chicago/s nororiously lousy food, and it has been warping their minds. Broad and Burkle would probably have been better, certainly more exciting and favorable to Los Angeles and California.


NBC, cutting back its news costs, has not renewed the contract of the weekend news anchor, John Siegenthaler. That's not great news, because Siegenthaler has always done a capable job.

However, if Campbell Brown is named to succeed him, this may turn out fine. Ms. Brown is a terrific newscaster, and I for one have always liked her a great deal.



Blogger Brian said...


Why do you continue to put down Chicago when it comes to food.

Last June, GQ magazine named Chicago the best restaurant city in the country. Also last year, Gourmet said the best restaurant in the U.S. was in Chicago.

Chicago is now world class when it comes to dining and is not just beef, hot dogs and pizza.

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