Months ago the change in culture at the Tribune Co. brought about by the sale of the company to Sam Zell and the employee stock ownership trust was described as a civil war. With the sixth month of the Zell reign approaching two differing views of the new Tribune Co. hit publication. Crain's Chicago Business' profile of Randy Michaels, written by Ann Saphir, is a classic Crain's piece. It is entertaining and adds new details to the picture of who Randy Michaels was and what is likely to come.
Saphir's story details Michaels' pushing voice-tracking and uses a media consultant to proclaim that this will happen in Tribune Co. newspaper properties too. That is something that Michaels discussed in his meetings with the Tribune Co. Washington, D.C. bureau, detailed earlier in this blog, when he asked about the use of several staffers to cover the creation of an Afghanistan version of "American Idol."
Another look at Zell is provided by former Los Angeles Times editor Joel Sappell in the American Journalism Review. Sappell starts by discussing the tearful process he went through in accepting the March buyout offer. Hoping that Zell would be the savior of the LA Times, Sappell expresses disappointment over a widely viewed YouTube incident in which Zell swore following a question from a photographer in Florida.
"Jaws dropped and hearts sank," Sappell writes. "Then came Zell's visit to Washingtonâ€¦ e-mails began flying into the home office with a blow-by-blow of Zell's performance, correctly described in the blog LAOberserved as a 'psychic bloodbath,'" he says. "I'd heard enough."
I'm disappointed that people who describe themselves as newspaper people, especially in editorial, are so naÃ¯ve. Zell was supposed to be a savior? The only thing I can say that the sale of the Tribune to Zell promised to do was rid the company of the Chandler family.
In that regard, I think the sale was successful.