Friday, April 20, 2007

Tribune Co. Cash Flow Off 12% In First Quarter

Tribune Co. CEO Dennis FitzSimons continues to fall on his face in performance, guiding the company to a catastrophic 12% decline in operating cash flow and a $15.6 million overall loss in the first quarter.

Who is the hapless FitzSimons trying to emulate? Ken Low, the late CEO of Enron?

Sam Zell, the buyer of Tribune, has said he will keep present management, pending a review and evaluation. If only Zell, whose ownership will not be final until the end of the year, could do both in the next 24 hours and give FitzSimons, senior member of the "axis of stupidity" which has been driving the Tribune newspapers into the ground, his walking papers. FitzSimons needs to get out of the company's hair. He deserves only a small severance, perhaps $3.

Just as he did last year, the word in a Tribune story today is that FitzSimons, throwing more downsizing into the mix, now is planning a new buyout and possibly layoffs at the Tribune properties.

He could also cut back the Chicago Cubs, which Tribune has said it will sell anyway at the end of the current baseball season. But unfortunately the Cubs, not for the first time, are mired in a tie for last place in the National League's Central Division, reducing their value, and it will probably be the newspapers that take the brunt of any further cutbacks.

John Carroll, before he quit as editor of the L.A. Times in protest against FitzSimons' policies of cut, cut, cut, until there's very little left, used to make the point that in order for a business to thrive, its operators need to invest in it. FitzSimons probably hasn't invested in anything since buying his children used tricycles years ago.

As FitzSimons has continued to cut, and now wants to cut some more, readers and advertisers are leaving the Tribune newspapers in droves. And yet this idiot presses on. Maybe, he has been paid off by the Wall Street analysts who are so pessimistic about the newspaper business.

Yes, we are in a period of tests for the industry. Today's story says real estate ads are off about 15%, and so are want-ads. The want-ads though are a longtime phenomenon, and the declines Tribune is reporting this morning are more than twice the industry average.

Also, there was bad news this week about Tribune's Web advertising business. Yahoo and Google are making new advertising arrangements with newspapers, to share advertising, but the Tribune's company is not in on the deal. That's Tribune management for you in the pre-Zell period. They are always falling short and not particularly imaginative competititively.

No, the time has come for this failed manager to GO, and if he won't jump over the side voluntarily, he ought to be pushed. It's too late to save his business career.


Polls in the French elections, the first round of which will be held Sunday, show the possibility of a considerable turn to the right in France, which would mean pressure against the continued Muslim immigration that has caused so many problems, culminating in riots in the heavily-Muslim Paris suburbs and even recently at the Gare du Nord inside Paris.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the Gaullist candidate, who memorably as French Interior Secretary called the rioters "scum," is running ahead in all polls, but not overwhelmingly so.

The latest survey out this week showed Sarkozi with 28% iof the vote jn the first round, socialist Segolene Royale with 24%, centrist Francois Bayrou with 14% and right wing candidate Jean Marie Le Pen with 12%. In a final second round between the top two candidates, the poll showed Sarkozy winning the presidency, 53% to 47%. But another survey showed Sarkozy leading Royale, an unwed mother of four, only 27% to 26% in the first round. She has been appealing to women voters, and perhaps there could be a surprise.

There have, however, been recent reports of Le Pen voters crossing over to vote for Sarkozy.

It has often been suggested on both sides of the Channel in recent months that Europe will move to the right to prevent Islamization of the continent. Sunday's French election will be a critical test of that thesis.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, there it was this morning buried below the fold on C2. If he had any decency maybe he'd forgo his fatcat salary, wouldn't he?

But they are all Enron types. It's a sad day for the Los Angeles Times.

I'm glad you said this Mr. Reich.

You're a newspaperman, and they don't make them like they used to.

It's disgusting. Disgusting.

sign me, friend of THE LOS ANGELES TIMES.

Now is the time for E. B. to start up a paper if he wants to. I bet he'd be just like Chandler was.

There are newspapermen and then there are pipsqueaks aren't there?

4/21/2007 9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's easy to bash FitzSimons and the Tribune top brass for the bad times that have befallen the Los Angeles Times. But would things be any different under any other management? Any other daily newspaper have it's circulation greatly increase in the last few years? Other media outlets growing while daily newspapers like the Times decline? Wouldn't there be a clue someplace if that were the case?

4/21/2007 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's obvious Anon2 knows little of the industry. He reminds me of the little pr*ck I used to work for that is currently outsourcing The Globe.

That's right. Take a very deep and good look at this industry, mister.

There is only one man in Los Angeles kind enough and humanitarian enough to operate the next big thing to hit LA, and parts north...that's right...just a bit past Malibu and twice as cozy. The Los Angeles Broadsheet has a very nice ring doesn't it?

When you need a leader you look to an alpha male. That's just how it goes. He is one. These bozos...?

They're only in it for the paycheck and they are all lawyers. Not NEWSPAPERMEN.

You want to see a newspaperman? Look here and look at LA Observed.
That's two, for openers.

Do some research, pal.

You know what you need to start a newspaper? A couple bucks and a staff with heart.

As we grow older in this lifetime what we are remembered for counts most.

4/21/2007 8:36 PM  

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