Newspapers: “”They Ain’t Ended And They’re Not Going To End. I Think They Have A Great Future.”
The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports on Sam Zell’s takeover of The Trubune Company, which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. Zell has brought along a bunch of very creative people including Randy Michaels as one of thr top managers and new board members Jeff Berg, chairman of International Creative Management Inc., and Las Vegas Sun editor Jeff Greenspun. And Zell is full of confidence about making the old new again:
Still, he made clear his intention to shake things up. In a note to employees, he said, “We’ve got a long way to go to shed all the things that tied us down in the past, and to realize the enormous potential we can create.”
More pointedly, in a statement announcing the deal’s completion, he noted that Tribune, as with the rest of the newspaper industry, “has been mired in its monopolistic origins” and that he wants to “create a fresh, entrepreneurial culture that is fast and nimble.”
“I’m sick and tired of listening to everyone talk about and commiserate over the end of newspapers,” Mr. Zell, who was tieless and wearing cowboy boots, told reporters. “They ain’t ended and they’re not going to end. I think they have a great future.”
There are very bright spots in the industry, including the WSJ.com and WashingtonPost.com. But the lights are generally out at the Los Angeles Times and most other papers as old media lifers refuse to adapt to new media rules. Can Zell energize a guild that has slipped into near irrelevance? He’d better bring a stopwatch and a big broom.