Saturday, September 30, 2006
If enough people do not accept buyouts, layoffs will be likely, said N. Christian Anderson III, publisher and chief executive of the Santa Ana-based newspaper. He declined to specify the target savings and denied staff members' reports of $5 million to $8 million.
"Along with almost every other metropolitan newspaper, the Orange County Register has suffered declines in advertising in recent months," Anderson said in a statement. "Unfortunately, we don't see a quick turnaround in the loss of this advertising in key categories."
The paper remains profitable but not at the level that shareholders and investors expect, according to information provided to employees. Investment firms Blackstone Group and Providence Equity Partners Inc. in 2003 acquired a 40% stake in Register parent Irvine-based Freedom Communications Inc.
The advertising decline has become more pronounced in the last three months, Anderson said in an interview, and it has affected every segment except new-home ads.
Anderson said the cuts were not the result of Freedom Communications' launch in August of OC Post, an abbreviated, quick-read newspaper. As expected, the new publication will operate at a loss for 2006.
The voluntary severance package is being offered to about a third of the newspaper's full-time staff of 1,600. Sales, print operations and OC Post employees are not eligible.
The Register last offered buyouts in 1993.
In 2001, the paper laid off 85 people and cut 20 more positions through attrition.
(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ... Registration required
A dedicated Teamsters union worker was attending a convention in Las Vegas and decided to check out the local brothels.
When he got to the first one, he asked the Madam, "Is this a union house?" "No," she replied, "I'm sorry it isn't." "Well, if I pay you $100, what cut do the girls get?" "The house gets $80 and the girls get $20," she answered Offended at such unfair dealings, the union man stomped off down the street in search of a more equitable, hopefully unionized shop.
His search continued until finally he reached a brothel where the Madam responded, "Why yes sir, this is a union house. We observe all union rules."
The man asked, "And if I pay you $100, what cut do the girls get?""The girls get $80 and the house gets $20." "That's more like it!" the union man said.
He handed the Madam $100, looked around the room, and pointed to a stunningly attractive blonde. "I'd like her," he said.
"I'm sure you would, sir," said the Madam. Then she gesturedto a 92-year old woman in the corner, "but Ethel here has 67 years seniority and according to union rules, she's next.
Submitted by Jesse DeGeytere
Friday, September 29, 2006
Ed, The description says: with bi-annual dinners every March and October.The word you want is semi-annual. Bi-annual is every other year. :-) Ex-Trib Business news editor, news designer, etc.-- Bob Beamesderfer
Thanks Bob, have made the correction. Thank you.
Hi Ed, it's the Wolfie. I was wondering if I could use you as a reference. I would need just your phone number of course. How are things with you? How are the guy's? I heard that Tribune is looking to dump some of their smaller holdings. Hey, If you could get some of the guy's phone numbers for me that would be great. Thanks. The Wolf Kevin Krater
Absolutely Kevin. Would you like me to share your address and number on the blog?
Hey, Thanks alot. My address is 27709 Mahogany Row, Santa Clarita, 91351, phone number 661-252-9875. Ya,go ahead and post it if you like. Hope you guys are doing fine. Kevin
Kevin Krater email
How are you? It's nice to know that you are feeling much better.
I hope everything goes well with you company, but do not work to hard if you have to do overtime, so as not to hurt your back again.
Thanks Bev, my back is just slightly sore now, I'm getting too old to be lifting heavy objects.
Thanks Ed, I finally got the picture. I miss him!!!!!!!!!!!!
Gatha, there was a glitch in the email at the Times a few weeks ago. Glad Marvin's picture finally arrived.
Hi Eddie I really like your old blog page better the new one is hard to navigate. The best Billy
Billy, I selected Blogger because it's actually the easiest to navigate. Maybe I need to post some help guidelines to clarify how to get around for everyone?
Lot's of important info to be disclosed. The Plan we have been working on is coming together and we want everyone possible to attend and get the info firsthand.
I know some are becoming impatient, but we don't want to rush into an election only to have the same results as the past. I trust Marty and this plan and I'm sure you guy's will too.
Your Brother in Solidarity,
Ronnie, how did the union rally go?
Hey Eddy! Haven't heard anymore from you about the alcohol. I am leaving here nextThursday morning,the 28th for Nebraska and will be gone until the 22nd of October. Areyou still planning on picking up the liquor? Let me know. Got thee-mail from Jaimie about Hal Fleming. Doesn't sound real good for him.I will surely keep him and the family in my prayers. It is always such ascarey time. Lovingly, Marilyn
Marilyn, I just sent off an email to you that I would be over Saturday. Darn, your already gone. Will get the bottles of alcohol when you return. Thanks for the donation to the club.
Just to let you know that I received a phone call from Gerda Gilham today.We talked for quite awhile,she said that Bob is 76 years old she is 78 and his hearing has gotten worst that the Tribune Co. wrote a letter telling them they no longer will pay for his hearing aids or batteries.They are walking distance to a market,shopping center and close to their doctor,their son Neil ? lives 5 miles away,he used to be a paper pusher now is a geologist working for a Canadian company.
Bob and Gerda are driving to Lake Tahoe next week to visit friends and will return in October.They used to live in Gardnerville,Nevada but the altitude was bothering her as she has asthma.She will call me when they get back so we can get together for lunch.
They are happy living in Lynnwood,Wa. and thought about moving to San Diego but the prices of homes made them change their mind.They would like to attend the next 20yr club dinner if they can get the flyer in time (Ed Padgett,can you let them know a little early of the time and date ?)
Thought you guys might want to know a little of a fellow LATimes employee and how they are doing.
Take care of Yourselves
Thanks Emmett, we always enjoy hearing about former co-workers. Especially good news.
That's it folks, I'm off to the LA Times for another shift. Ed
A short two months ago I did a photo shoot of the condition of our plant, as you may remember the grass was allowed to die from the lack of water, the palm trees had not been trimmed in years, and the weeds were taller than myself.
The changes at the Los Angeles Times Olympic Facility have been no less than dramatic, palm trees have been trimmed and one palm tree completely removed. The grass is watered, and the six foot tall weeds at the north side of the building have been chopped down.
Sure makes for a better way to pull onto the property, a neat and well kept facility equals better employee moral.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Tribune Co. shareholders dropped a lawsuit claiming that directors of the second-biggest U.S. newspaper publisher failed to maximize share value, after a federal judge spotted a defect in the case.
The case against Tribune Chairman Dennis FitzSimons and seven other directors was dropped yesterday, U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur said today. Three days ago, Shadur issued an order questioning his jurisdiction over the case and scheduling a hearing for today to resolve the issue.
``It appears highly likely that the Tribune itself (as contrasted with the management-affiliated directors who are targets of this action) should be aligned with the plaintiff rather than the defendants,'' Shader said in his Sept. 25 order.
Tribune Co. hires bankers to mull 'strategic alternatives'
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Tribune Co. (TRB) late Thursday said it has named Merrill Lynch and Citigroup as financial advisers to help it explore "strategic alternatives to create additional shareholder value."
Tribune Names Financial Advisers
Tribune Co. (TRB) late Thursday said it has named Merrill Lynch and Citigroup as financial advisers to help it explore "strategic alternatives to create additional shareholder value."
The Chicago-based media company said it will focus on finding the best options for the company as a whole before evaluating alternatives for its individual units. The company added that it expects to finish the review process before the end of the year.
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Among the companies whose shares are expected to see active trade in Friday's session are Tribune Co., Ford Motor Co. and Research In Motion Ltd.
NEW YORK, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Tribune Co. jolted the media world last week when it said it was looking at ways to create shareholder value -- shorthand, many analysts say, for putting itself up for sale.
LA Times - To cut or not to cut
LA Times has been in the news a lot lately. Its editor and publisher refused to carry out staff cuts ordered by the parent company. The Tribune company (which owns LA times) had gone in for budget and staff cuts just last year cutting hundreds of jobs. This time, however, the editor as well as publisher of LA Times stood their ground and simply refused to go along with the management. What's more, they even said so publicly; in their own newspaper to be precise. There is a very interesting article in the NY Times titled The Newspaper Publisher Who Said No to More Cuts .
Newspaper publisher and broadcaster Tribune (TRB) said last week that it has established an independent committee to help it explore a number of possible strategic alternatives. Those alternatives could include the sale of specific newspapers or television stations or the entire company.
Another possibility is that Tribune could take itself private, and that appears to be the smartest play.
If you follow newspaper earnings on any kind of regular basis, you're aware that most of the problems that brought Tribune to this point are issues shared by all of its peers.
That was a year ago, and, since then, Geffen’s pursuit of the Tribune Co.’s troubled outpost not only hasn’t flagged, it has fired up, and not just because the paper’s 20 percent profit margin is so much better than the 6 percent earned on bonds. I’m told he’s “very serious” and “pretty confident” about purchasing it someday soon. “He believes that he’s going to be the owner,” an insider explains. That, even though there’s a growing list of fat-cat Angelenos lining up, including Eli Broad and Ron Burkle. But anyone familiar with Hollywood knows how relentless Geffen can be: What David wants, David gets. Says another source: “He has never stopped doing anything until he’s done.”
But the Times’ most pressing problem isn’t whether Geffen or someone else buys it, or Tribune sells it, or Baquet gets fired. Instead, the widespread media coverage has ignored the dangerous game being played with the paper’s integrity between this billionaire boys’ club and Baquet or his surrogates behind closed doors. I’ve even looked into accusations that the Times buried an investigation into one of the potential buyers. It’s all so unseemly: There, in August, was the Times’ own West magazine’s Power Issue giving high placement to every past and present rich guy who’s ever expressed interest in owning the paper: Eli Broad (No. 2, fortune valued at $5.6 billion), Philip Anschutz (No. 6, $6.4 billion), Haim Saban (No. 10, $3.1 billion), Ron Burkle (“who just missed our Top 10,” $2.5 billion), David Geffen (“another enormous name who barely fell out of our Top 10 list,” $4.6 billion) and even Peter Ueberroth (the poorest of the bunch, worth only $50 million). To top it off, Baquet’s name was included on that exclusive roster, thus giving the disturbing impression that he’s playing on their polo field.
Read entire article at LA Weekly
The employees, engaged in a months-long public battle with News-Press owner and co-publisher Wendy P. McCaw over journalistic ethics and independence, voted 33-6 to join the union, according to a source who declined to be identified.
A spokesperson for the employees and the union was not immediately available for comment on the results.
The election was conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.
More than 20 news staff members at the paper have quit on been fired since early July. The journalists have charged that McCaw, who bought the newspaper five years ago, has meddled in newsroom operations.
Read entire story at Santa Maria Times
Mark Kurtich will spend this Friday at the Los Angeles Times Olympic Facility to say hello and answer any questions employees may have.
Private meetings can be schedueled by calling Leonora at extension 75505.
If I can get a better photograph of Mark for displaying on the blog I will have my camera at hand.
Less than a year ago, the Tribune Company told The Los Angeles Times to cut millions of dollars from the paper’s budget and get rid of hundreds of jobs. The top editor and the publisher complied.
But when Tribune came calling last month to seek a new round of cuts, Jeffrey M. Johnson, the publisher, and Dean Baquet, the editor, had had enough. They refused to make what they considered drastic cuts and said so publicly.
In that space of time, Mr. Johnson — who has worked for Tribune for more than 20 years — seemed to many Los Angeles Times employees to transform himself as dramatically as Clark Kent does when he removes his glasses, steps into a phone booth and turns into Superman.
“Jeff has really emerged as a hero to a lot of us in the newsroom,” said Mark Z. Barabak, a reporter who covers state and national politics. “You’d expect your editor to stand up and fight for the editorial integrity of the paper, but it was and is surprising and inspiring and courageous that the publisher stood alongside of him.”
In reality, Mr. Johnson, 47, is a modest, unassuming family man with a wife and three sons who lives in a suburb of Los Angeles near Pasadena. “He’s a very clean-cut, wholesome Midwestern boy,” Mr. Baquet said. “He looks like the father on ‘Leave It to Beaver.’ ”
This ordinary man now finds himself in extraordinary circumstances. Because of their refusals to go along with the cuts, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Baquet are in a showdown with their corporate parent, one that could cost them their jobs and could reverberate throughout the newspaper industry.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Relatives of David Chase said Tuesday they would consider assembling a group of local investors to buy the Courant if the numbers make sense.
San Marino fire Chief John Penido said the home at 1048 Oak Grove Place had recently been sold and was vacant and the owners, whom he did not identify, were out of town. The house is surrounded by heavy vegetation and is not visible from the street.
Click on title to read entire story
The sale of The Courant, which has emerged as a possible element in the radical shake-up of its parent, Tribune Co., could dramatically alter the media landscape in Connecticut. But newspaper analysts say the sheer breadth of Tribune's options as it redefines itself - spinning off TV stations, taking the company private, retreating to its core assets - makes it difficult to divine the fate of the nation's oldest newspaper.
Sun owner's chief says 'all options ... are on the table'
The chief executive of The Sun's parent company declined yesterday to specify whether the newspaper is being considered for sale as part of an assessment of restructuring moves, saying only that 'all options ... are on the table.'
'We're looking at this on an entire company basis, and it just may not be possible to determine what's best for any one part of the company without first determining what's best for the whole company,' Tribune Co. Chief Executive Officer Dennis J. FitzSimons said.
Tribune Interactive Gets Creative in Fight for National Advertisers
In their struggle against the portals, newspaper sites are trying all sorts of ways to attract national ad dollars, and Tribune Interactive is no exception. The publisher is running innovative campaigns from national advertisers with very different approaches and goals on sites including LATimes.com and the Chicago Tribune Web site. Each, however, reflects the local presence of the online newspapers.
Journal Register To Cut Jobs As Auto Slowdown Hits Michigan
Journal Register said remaining employees at its Michigan papers, as well as senior executives in the company's corporate office, will not receive wage increases in 2007. "We will also seek a moratorium on wage increases for 2007 in our upcoming union negotiations in the Michigan Cluster," the company said in a statement.
FCC Announces Details For Public Hearing On Media Ownership
The purpose of the hearing is to involve the public in the process of the 2006 Quadrennial Broadcast Media Ownership Review that the FCC is currently conducting. The hearing is open to the public, and seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. This hearing is the first in a series of media ownership hearings the Commission intends to hold across the country.
Newsprint's Still Smudging
The newspaper industry has its share of challenges, and the last couple weeks have provided a few more headlines that support that perspective. New York Times (NYSE: NYT) warned about earnings in its coming third quarter, and Tribune (NYSE: TRB) said it is mulling a restructuring and possibly a sale.
Toledo Blade Talks Resume As Lockout Continues
In a battle over union rights that other newspaper unions may eventually have to fight, The Toledo Council of Newspaper Unions has launched an all-fronts boycott of The Blade in Ohio. Talks resume this week between the Blade and five locked out unions. Hundreds of workers have been locked out since August 28th.
Retired pressroom supervisor Rex Hart (pictured on left next to Charlie Coleman) is confined to a wheelchair due too complications from an illness.
According to his son (Chuck Hart Oly machinist) Rex may have to miss our upcoming dinner in October.
Lets hope Rex is back on his feet soon.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Dear Mr. FitzSimons,
Welcome to Baltimore!
This is a wonderful city with a rich history that includes The Sun, a newspaper that has been published since 1837 with a legacy of excellence that we hope to continue. To do that, we need your help.
We need you and your colleagues in Tribune management to understand that the way to provide a viable product in the information age that is the 21st century is not to cut back on the essential resources of this institution.
We stand with our colleagues at the Los Angeles Times, both management and workers, in saying to you that you cannot cut your way to prosperity, that sometimes you have to make the tough decisions and forgo short-term returns for long-term gains. You need to maintain and increase your investment in these newspapers if they are going to make a successful transition to the new age of journalism that is upon us.
We also ask that you respect those of us in Baltimore who have made this a successful and profitable cornerstone of Baltimore life for these many decades. You did not do this in 2003 in the negotiations with the Guild for a new contract. You spent $3 million of your shareholders’ money to launch a blitzkrieg on your employees that included the disruptive presence of so-called “replacement workers” training in our building, as well as the demeaning comment at the bargaining table that the Pulitzer Prize-winning Sun does not have a “high performance culture.”
A well-run company does not spend its money attacking its loyal employees. No one wants The Sun to be successful more than those of us who work here, who raise our families here, who have invested our careers in this institution. We ask that Tribune treat those of us who work here with the respect we deserve and make sure that The Sun has the resources it needs to maintain the quality that has allowed it to thrive.
Either that, or sell The Sun to someone who will.
The Sun unit of the Newspaper Guild
Little more than a year after its launch, Tribune Co.’s free magazine for upscale Chicago-area baby boomers will cease publication, said John Twohey, vice-president of editorial and operations at Tribune Media Services, publisher of Satisfaction.
Tribune Co. stock slips on overhaul uncertainty
(AP) — Shares of Tribune Co. slipped Monday as the media company faces uncertainty over plans to overhaul itself by the end of the year.
Last week Tribune directors said they were looking at various options, including a sale, breakup or buyout, to help satisfy shareholders after a three-year stock slide.
Tribune Still Faces Unrest at L.A. Times
Tribune Co. took a big step toward easing shareholder anger this week when it opened the door to a broad restructuring of the company, but it still faces unrest at its biggest and most important property _ the Los Angeles Times.
The publisher and editor at the newspaper, the fourth largest in the country, have so far pulled off what few would dare attempt: A public refusal to implement corporate-mandated cost cuts. So far, they haven't been fired.
Change in this year's EPS estimate
The current fiscal year consensus EPS estimate for this stock has changed from 2.01 to 2.00.
Change in next year's EPS estimate
The next fiscal year consensus EPS estimate for this stock has changed from 2.22 to 2.21.
TRB trades on unusually high volume
This stock has experienced unusually high trading volume of 3,598,000 shares today; its average daily volume over the previous 30 days was 1,763,577 shares.
The Media World Is In Convulsions
What the hell is going on in the media world?
A: Put simply, the media are going through convulsions A lot of the headlines these days make very little sense to me.
Tribune Empire Could Crumble
Imagine buying the most expensive house on a good-looking block that appears to be on the upswing. Within three years, the neighborhood craters, your oldest kid starts backtalking and your spouse pesters you to sell the house and get out. Meanwhile, you're stuck with a fat mortgage.
Postpress best hope for newspapers' future?
As newspapers continue to search for ways to forge new revenue streams, distribution and packaging are attracting a lot of interest by publishers and production executives.
“Mailrooms are being turned upside down,” said Bill Bolger, vice president of production at The Indianapolis Star, at Inland Press Association’s press and mailroom seminar.
Twin forces of burgeoning insert volume, combined with more stringent verification of insert performance by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, are forcing a sea of change in mailroom operation.
Tribune CEO Asked To Maintain Quality At Baltimore Sun
BALTIMORE (AP)--Members of the union that represents newsroom staff of The ( Baltimore) Sun asked Tribune Co.'s (TRB) CEO Dennis J. FitzSimons on Tuesday to either make sure the newspaper gets the resources it needs to maintain quality or "sell The Sun to someone who will."
FitzSimons attended a forum in Baltimore with members of the newspaper's staff to talk about possible changes amid plans for the company to overhaul itself by year's end.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Nice to meet you, Ed Padgett.
We've known some mighty fine Pressmen in our day.
Without the Pressmen, no PAPER!This is harder than being a mailman, really it is!
These guys have been known to stay up all through the night to make sure it comes out if the press malfunctions.
Our hat is off to you, your fabulous paper The Los Angeles Times and the two courageous men who are true leaders down there. Your publisher, and Dean Baquet.
posted by SBStarFreePress @ 9:59 AM
Thank you Santa Barbara Star Free Press,
We still get the print edition of our local paper, the Los Angeles Times, although increasingly I find it hard to justify killing the rain forests in order to do so. Since I was a child here in Los Angeles, a linchpin of my experience of the Sunday L.A. Times has been TV Times, the paper’s facsimile of TV Guide.
Tribute Company Meltdown
The board of the Tribune Company voted unanimously on Thursday to restructure two partnerships that may lead the way for a possible sale or breakup of the company. The decision comes on the heels of a protracted dispute between shareholders and the editorial side of two of the company’s most high-profile assets: the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.
Staff writers at the Los Angeles Times report that Thursday’s board meeting named a committee whose purpose would be to study “alternatives for creating additional value for shareholders.”
L. A. Times Continues Its Rebellion Against Tribune Owners
The Tribune Company, which has been trying to cut costs at its newspapers around the country, including the Baltimore Sun, Newsday and the Los Angeles Times, is still facing intense opposition from the editor and publisher at the Times, but is so far not taking that final step--removing the management at that paper. The Tribune' is responding to demands from shareholders unhappy with the company's performance, but the Times has already cut a number of positions in the past few years and the newspaper's management team fears that more cuts would damage the paper irreparably.
Nerves rattle down the chain
By Barbara Rose Tribune staff reporter
23 Sep 2006
In Tribune Co.’s cafeteria Friday, the day after a big board meeting set the company on course for a possible sale or breakup, the talk was about the Chicago Cubs, the weather, weekend plans. But beneath the usual chatter at headquarters, and at... read more...
I've started an additional blog to document my office's participation in Lee National Denim Day. I hope the pressmen will join me in showing support for breast cancer awareness, treatment and support. In order to participate, just donate $5 and wear denim to work. The forms are even online! Anyway, I'll be documenting what we're doing in our office in order to show our support.
Just a few facts:
In 2006, nearly 2000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Over 250,000 women will be diagnosed with an invasive form of breast cancer this year.
Over 40,000 women will die from the disease this year.
My other blog Easy Writer will continue as well.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Murder! Terror! Customer Service!
Maybe it's just me, and maybe I'm overreacting, but I think the Tribune Company of Chicago has just driven the coffin-nail home in the case for its being an unfit owner of the Los Angeles Times.
Upheaval at the Tribune Company
On Thursday evening in Chicago, the board of the Tribune Company voted unanimously to restructure two partnerships that may lead the way for a possible sale or breakup of the company. The decision comes on the heels of a protracted dispute between shareholders and the editorial side of two of the company’s most high-profile assets: the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.
Tribune Co. Joins Reversal of Media Consolidation
The nascent but distinct and ongoing reversal of the corporate consolidation of the U.S. media received another boost yesterday with the Tribune Co.'s announcement that it is willing to sell any or all of its 11 newspapers and 25 television stations.
Board Signals Major Changes For Tribune Co.
Tribune Co., under pressure from shareholders to boost its stock price, is signaling it may sell, break up or take private the company that owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, television stations and the Chicago Cubs.The company is targeting potentially transforming changes by the end of the year following a five-hour meeting of its board of directors on Thursday.
Advice to Tribune Co.: Keep Chicago, Dump the Rest
With the Tribune Co. edging closer to a possible breakup or sale, one veteran analyst said the company's best bet is to keep its dominant Chicago holdings and sell everything else.
Start the cuts at the LA Times at the top
The Tribune Company is under pressure to sell its largest paper, the Los Angeles Times, as you’ve read here and in the business press. The major trouble was coming from the Chandler family, the former owner of the L.A. Times and one of the company’s largest share holders in the stock and cash deal.
2. What is the weather outside, and do you wish it would change?
3. What two websites do you think you will go to next after you are finished here?
4. Do you wish you were somewhere else and if so, where?
5. Do you wish you were someone else, and if so, who?
TRIBUNE: Pressure for profits won’t disappear
24 Sep 2006
analyst at Barclays Capital Research, points out that Tribune is already trading near the multiple of cash flow paid by McClatchy Co. for Knight Ridder Inc. earlier this year. Goldman Sachs analyst Peter Appert said in a report Friday that the... read more...
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Directors of the embattled newspaper and TV station owner said they are reviewing options that include a sale, breakup or buyout.
That amounts to an acknowledgment by the parent of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Cubs that a stock buyback strategy it implemented in May isn't paying off fast enough and more action is needed to satisfy frustrated shareholders after a three-year stock slide.
Full story here.
These options include breaking up the company into individual assets, including broadcasting assets, the sought-after Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Cubs baseball team (not a key media asset, obviously, but one that Tribune CEO Dennis Fitzsimmons had been reluctant to release into the wild).
Click on Title for full story.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Saturday's "Deadline L.A." on KPFK deals with the L.A. Times situation and the future of editor Dean Baquet and publisher Jeff Johnson. Hosts Barbara Osborn and Howard Blume.
90.7 FM, noon.
LA Biz Observed
Getting relatively little attention in today's stories about the Tribune announcement was a sentence buried in the press release. It relates to the terms of the Chandlers restructuring those two partnerships and it could become important as the company considers a sale. As part of the restructuring, the Chandlers own an additional 11.8 million shares of Tribune common stock, which gives them close to 20 percent ownership of the company. Here's the key point: the Chandlers have agreed to vote the additional shares in the same way as all other shareholders for 12 months from the date of distribution.
COMPLETE STORY <---Click
Tribune Co. to Explore Sale or Breakup of Firm
By Thomas S. Mulligan, James Rainey and Michael A. Hiltzik
Los Angeles Times
22 Sep 2006
CHICAGO — In a pivotal board meeting Thursday, Tribune Co. named a committee of directors to explore options that could include a breakup or outright sale of the venerable media company that owns the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, KTLA-TV, and... read more...
Ariel Capital, which owns about 6% of Tribune stock, believes a buyout would be "the cleanest" outcome for shareholders. On Thursday, Tribune's board assigned a committee of independent directors to oversee potential options for creating additional value for shareholders.
"If (a buyout is) what the board did decide, we'd be in favor of that," the FT quoted John Miller, an Ariel portfolio manager, as saying.
The company is targeting potentially transforming changes by the end of the year following a five-hour meeting of its board of directors on Thursday.
Wall Street reacted positively. A day after Tribune shares rose 4.4%, they had gained another $2.02, or 6.3%, to $34.07 early Friday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange.
The stock's rise follows gains on Thursday that were triggered by rumors the company would take significant action at a board meeting.
The company said late Thursday it created a special committee on the board to examine different strategic scenarios. The move follows months of agitation by investors, including the Chandler family, the leading shareholders in the company. The Chandlers called in June for the company to consider breaking itself up.
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Media stocks were mixed in Friday morning trading, with shares of Tribune Co. (TRB) leading the gainers, after the company said its board voted to explore options for the media company. Leading the decliners was New York Times Co. (NYT) , which warned that third-quarter profits would fall from last year's levels, citing ongoing weakness in the print advertising market and the impact of job cuts.
More than 400 editorial employees have signed a letter showing their support for Johnson and Baquet, out of 940 strong editorial department at the Los Angeles Times.
Appears the disagreement will not be resolved any time soon.
Tribune, under rising investor pressure to sell divisions or go private, said after a board meeting on Thursday that it would consider strategic alternatives to create value with the support of its largest shareholder.
I'm having problems understanding the term "Value Creation Alternatives ", and would welcome your spin on translating this term used by the Tribune Board. By the way the Tribune stock is moving, I see many understand what was said yesterday.
In the mean time Mark Lacter at LA Biz Observed attempt's to explain what may happen at the end of 2006 regarding the Tribune Company.
If you have an explanation longer than three or four paragraphs, attach your message to an email and we will make it a regular post, so others can comment.
Tribune’s board of directors met this afternoon and approved several important items. Full details are in our press release now posted on tribune.com and TribLink.
First, the board established a special committee of independent directors to oversee management’s exploration of strategic alternatives for the company designed to maximize shareholder value. The committee expects to make a final recommendation to the full board by the end of 2006.
During the strategic review process we will continue to execute the performance improvement plan announced last May. We’re making solid progress on many fronts, and your efforts are appreciated.
Also today, the board reviewed and approved a plan to restructure the partnerships known as TMCT I and TMCT II. Tribune inherited the partnerships when it acquired Times Mirror in June 2000. The transaction agreed upon today benefits all Tribune shareholders. Among the advantages, it
· simplifies our capital structure by eliminating all preferred stock;
· has no impact on Tribune’s earnings; and
· it frees the company to explore all strategic value-creating alternatives.
We will keep you informed of any new developments associated with today’s board actions. Thank you for your dedication during this important time in Tribune Company’s history.
Tribune Co. (TRB) said its board has set a committee to oversee management's exploration of alternatives to create additional shareholder value, and the process is expected to conclude by year end. The media company also said it has reached an agreement to restructure two partnerships in which the Chandler family has an interest.
Tribune, Chandlers reach agreement
Among the options suggested by some shareholders have been splitting the company into newspaper and television divisions, then selling one or both; or selling the company's Major League baseball team, the Chicago Cubs. Three Los Angeles-area billionaires also have indicated, separately, an interest in buying the Los Angeles Times.
The Case for Citizen Ownership of the Los Angeles Times
Corporate ownership of daily newspapers is reaching the breaking point, especially now at the Los Angeles Times , which is owned by the Chicago-based Tribune Company media conglomerate. The newspaper is facing the same problem that hundreds of other newspapers are facing: Owners and stockholders who want profit growth each year, who want to cut back on editorial staff, and who could care less about the communities and people who actually read and gain insight from the newspaper. And there’s that massive problem of people reading dead-tree edition newspapers less and reading electronic online versions more — leading to smaller profits at the moment.
Tribune reporter has had enough
Two weeks ago, what should have been a proud moment in the life of an historic institution-the elevation of the popular and talented Cliff Teutsch to editor of the Courant-was marred by fresh promises by Tribune to exact more job cuts. We can’t even get through the choice of a new editor around here without the negative spin of Tribune’s rote management default: gutting the very property it claims to be managing for shareholders. This is an open e-mail from a concerned and experienced newsman who isn’t afraid to tell you that Tribune’s “cost center” mentality is alienating your workforce, driving readers away in droves and contributing to a loss of confidence among advertisers and the civic community.
Tribune Board Appoints "Value Creation" Committee; LAT Not For Sale
The Tribune Company board meeting that some observers speculated could result in some kind of bold action instead wound up after five hours with a fairly typical action: the appointment of an independent special committee “to oversee management’s exploration of alternatives for creating additional value for shareholders.” It’s close to the board equivalent of a “for sale” sign if the numbers are right. The seven indie board members are on the committee, expected to wind up its work by the end of the year.
Tribune Restructuring 2 Partnerships
CHICAGO — Tribune Co. announced Thursday night that it is restructuring two complex partnerships with the Chandler family, its largest single shareholder, clearing the way for the struggling media company to pursue new initiatives by year's end.
Tribune to consider selling some media assets
The Tribune Company said last night that it would consider selling any or all of its 11 newspapers and 25 television stations, a move that could reshape the media landscape. The properties include The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
CHICAGO, September 21, 2006 -- Tribune Company (NYSE:TRB) said today that its board of directors has established an independent special committee to oversee management’s exploration of alternatives for creating additional value for shareholders. This process is expected to conclude by the end of 2006.
"In pursuing the leveraged recapitalization that was launched in June, we emphasized that it would not preclude us from pursuing other value-creating initiatives in the future," said Dennis FitzSimons, Tribune chairman and chief executive officer. "Today's actions, along with our performance improvement plan, are consistent with our overall objective to generate the most value for all Tribune shareholders."
Named to the special committee of the board were Enrique Hernandez, Jr., Betsy D. Holden, Robert S. Morrison, William A. Osborn, J. Christopher Reyes, Dudley S. Taft and Miles D. White. "Management and the board have been working together to determine the best course of action for creating shareholder value. The board unanimously agrees with this approach, and we will work expeditiously to complete the process," said Osborn, Tribune’s lead independent director.
The company also announced today the restructuring of two partnerships known as TMCT, LLC (TMCT I) and TMCT II, LLC (TMCT II), which it inherited six years ago in its acquisition of Times Mirror. In a unanimous vote, with Chandler family representatives abstaining due to their interests in the partnerships, Tribune’s board approved the terms of the transaction.
The two partnerships currently own all of Tribune’s preferred stock, 51.3 million shares of Tribune common stock, real estate used by the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Baltimore Sun and Hartford Courant, and various other investments.
Under the terms of the restructuring, Tribune will receive distributions of all of the Tribune preferred stock and approximately 39.5 million shares of the Tribune common stock held by the partnerships. Tribune also will receive the right to acquire the real estate owned by the partnerships in January 2008 for $175 million. Additionally, Tribune will retain a 5% interest in the partnerships.
The Chandler Trusts will retain a 95% interest in the partnerships. The two partnerships will distribute within 30 days the 11.8 million shares of Tribune common stock remaining in the partnerships to the Chandler Trusts. As a result, the Chandler Trusts will increase their holdings of Tribune common stock to approximately 48.7 million shares from approximately 36.9 million. The Chandler Trusts have agreed to vote these additional 11.8 million shares in the same proportion as all other shares are voted on any matter requiring a shareholder vote for a period of 12 months from the date of this distribution.
As a result of the distributions, the number of shares of Tribune common stock outstanding will increase by 1.6 million. The reason for this increase is that the 39.5 million shares of common stock Tribune is receiving is less than the 80% of the common stock in the partnerships that Tribune currently treats as treasury stock for financial reporting purposes. Tribune’s earnings per share will not be affected by the restructuring because the impact of the increase in shares outstanding will be offset by the elimination of the preferred stock dividends. The company expects to record a one-time gain of approximately $45 million as a result of the transaction.
"The Chandler Trusts are pleased that we reached an agreement that serves the interests of all Tribune shareholders. We will now work collaboratively with management and the board to build value for all shareholders," said Warren B. Williamson, chairman of the Chandler Trusts.
"The restructuring of these partnerships frees the Company to move quickly to pursue strategic alternatives to further enhance shareholder value," said FitzSimons. "Under these terms, all shareholders benefit."
In other business, the Tribune board of directors approved the sale of WLVI-TV (channel 56), Boston, to Sunbeam Television Corp. for $113.7 million. The sale was announced on Sept. 14, 2006, contingent upon board approval. The transaction will close upon regulatory approval.
The sale of WLVI is part of Tribune’s performance improvement plan announced May 30. The plan includes at least $500 million in asset sales and approximately $420 million have been identified so far. On Aug. 7, Tribune completed the sale of WATL-TV in Atlanta for $180 million in cash. In July, Tribune sold 2.8 million shares of Time Warner common stock for net proceeds of approximately $46 million. In June, the company announced the sale of WCWN-TV in Albany for $17 million.
TRIBUNE (NYSE:TRB) is one of the country’s top media companies, operating businesses in publishing, interactive and broadcasting. It reaches more than 80 percent of U.S. households and is the only media organization with newspapers, television stations and websites in the nation’s top three markets. In publishing, Tribune’s leading daily newspapers include the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Newsday (Long Island, N.Y.), The Sun (Baltimore), South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel and Hartford Courant. The company’s broadcasting group operates 25 television stations, Superstation WGN on national cable, Chicago’s WGN-AM and the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Popular news and information websites complement Tribune’s print and broadcast properties and extend the company’s nationwide audience.
From: Russ Stanton, Business Editor
Sallie Hofmeister has been named deputy business editor and will oversee the entertainment and technology industries, a critical and -- not coincidentally -- large segment of the Business section.
Sallie became an assistant business editor in April after a distinguished and decade-long run as one of the section's top reporters, chronicling the complicated and fast-changing media landscape. Since then, she has done a terrific job leading our coverage of the biggest media stories this summer: the Tribune-Chandler feud and Viacom's dismissal first of Tom Cruise, then its CEO, Tom Freston.
Sallie brings to this job a deep knowledge of the entertainment business and an ability to tap industry leaders, attributes that are exceeded only by her arsenal of fashionable glasses and spiffy shoes.
Before joining The Times, Sallie was an editor at the New York Times, where she improved the copy of a host of reporters including some guy named Baquet. Before that, she was a staff writer at Venture magazine. Sallie is a 1980 graduate of Kansas State University.
Click on title for complete article.
Tribune Stock $32.32 UP $1.63 Gain 5.31% at 10:44am PST
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago and seeking class-action status said the eight directors had "erected draconian defensive barriers that prevent any potential acquirer from, among other things, attempting to buy the company directly from shareholders."
Click on title for complete article.
Tribune (TRB), up $1.68, or 5.5%, at $32.37, will hold a meeting of its board of directors Thursday. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the company may opt to take itself private in a leveraged buyout, or spin off its TV stations. Tribune is also expected to look at a plan to unwind two partnerships between the company and its largest shareholder, the Chandler Trusts.
Click on title to jump to story.
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- The board of Tribune Co. (TRB) will consider taking the company private in a leveraged buyout or spinning off its television station group, though no decision has been made, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing several people familiar with the company's thinking. Serious obstances exist to any major strategic move, the report added. The board meeting comes as The Los Angeles Times editor and publisher are resisting pressure to make further cuts in staff, the report said.
The Tribune Co., which has an all-important board meeting today where the crisis at its Los Angeles Times will be front and center, may have a bigger problem than even the corporate owners realize with the paper's top editorial management. I'm told there's even a name for it inside the LA Times newsroom -- "The Suicide Pact" -- and it involves the highest-ranking editors. I've learned from insiders that, if Dean Baquet gets fired as editor and executive vice president by his Chicago bosses, then his trusted senior lieutenants have agreed to quit on the spot: Doug Frantz, Leo Wolinsky, and John Montorio.
Beards ready to quit together
Managing editor Doug Frantz (left), who goes back the longest with Baquet, is essentially the number two editor at the Times.
Crunch time for newspapers
No matter how it resolves its dispute with California's Chandler family, the company's future will ultimately depend on its ability to negotiate massive challenges faced by its major daily newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.
Staff rebellion over cuts at LA Times
A staff rebellion at the Los Angeles Times against its Chicago owners has escalated, with more than 300 journalists signing a petition to be delivered on Thursday to directors at a Tribune Company board meeting.
Hal is doing better tonight, doctors said his white blood cell count is down and he’s breathing is better, he’s off of the ventilator.
His heart is at 50% blood flow and he still has fluid on the lungs but they are waiting for him to get stronger before they drain it off.
Hal is a fighter.
He knows we’re all praying for him.
Attached is a picture of Hal when he started at the Times and when he retired.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
CHICAGO, Sept. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Is the job offer you received enough? Is your pay on par with other professionals in your position and location? Are you interested in making a career change, but aren't sure about your earning potential? You can find these answers and more at CBSalary.com, a free, comprehensive salary information and advice site from CareerBuilder.com, the nation's largest online job site. CBSalary.com is powered by PayScale, a market leader in online compensation and benefits information and host to the largest ongoing real-time compensation database in the world.
Best Places to Work
CHICAGO, Sept. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Want to work for a great company? How about the best? CareerBuilder.com, the nation's largest online job site with more than 23 million unique visitors and over 1.5 million jobs, was awarded the No. 1 spot for medium-sized companies in Atlanta Business Chronicle's "Atlanta's 2006 Best Places to Work" competition.
LA Times Journalists Protest Tribune Co's Cuts
The Los Angeles Times' staff rebellion against its Chicago-based owners has escalated as over 300 journalists have signed a petition to be delivered Thursday to the Tribune Co.'s (TRB) board meeting, the Financial Times reported on its Web site Wednesday.
Journalists protest planned cuts at paper
LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) -- An escalating feud between management and journalists at one of the nation's largest newspapers got a little hotter Wednesday, as reporters and editors at the Los Angeles Times signed a petition protesting planned staff reductions, according to a report late Wednesday.
'L.A.Times' Staffers Circulate Petition Backing Pair
NEW YORK A petition supporting Los Angeles Times Editor Dean Baquet and Publisher Jeff Johnson for their stand against potential cuts by the Tribune Company began circulating Tuesday, according to newsroom staffers. Hundreds had signed the document that was to be sent to the corporate headquarters in Chicago before Thursday’s planned board meeting.
'Save Baquet' petition
We the undersigned staff members of the Los Angeles Times want to state our support and appreciation for the stand our publisher, Jeff Johnson, and editor, Dean Baquet, have taken on behalf of quality journalism and the newspaper we love.
MGA buys Times Chatsworth plant
The San Fernando Valley Business Journal is reporting that MGA Entertainment, the Van Nuys-based maker of Bratz dolls, is buying the Los Angeles Times' Chatsworth facility. MGA expects to use the location as its new corporate headquarters. No word on purchase price. You might remember that the Times announced the closing of its Chatsworth plant in late 2005. It resulted in the loss of 110 jobs and was part of the paper's effort to consolidate production facilities.
Rebellion at the Times
The editor and publisher of the LA Times are leading an open revolt against the newspaper's owner, Chicago-based Tribune Co., protesting staff cuts they say have gutted its reputation for good journalism. Sarah Gardner has the story.
On Saving the Los Angeles Times From Itself
With all of the internal machinations and alterations going down these days at a place called the L.A. Times -- what with demands for Tribune Company to sell it and the editors to improve it and residents to keep reading it despite the creeping obsolescence of its ilk -- publisher Jeff Johnson thought it was finally time to take some real action. And so, he did. Because when the going gets tough, the tough, naturally, send out a memo.
Staff rebellion at LA Times escalates
A staff rebellion at the Los Angeles Times against its Chicago owners has escalated, with more than 300 journalists signing a petition to be delivered on Thursday to directors at a Tribune Company board meeting.
The petition is in support of the paper’s editor, Dean Baquet, and publisher, Jeffrey Johnson, who last week defied Tribune’s demands to make deeper cuts at the paper, arguing that it would damage quality.
At Los Angeles Times, a Civil Executive Rebellion
After Jeffrey M. Johnson, the publisher of The Los Angeles Times, openly defied his bosses at the Tribune Company last week by refusing to make layoffs at the paper, he was summoned to Chicago and spent Tuesday meeting with top executives.
When you can't beat them join them
Many newspaper companies, such as the Tribune Co., are embracing what many refer to as "crunch time". Right before our very eyes the Internet, being newspapers' main contender, is swallowing print media's profit almost entirely.
The timing of all the ado at the Tribune Company could not be worse, I'm in the middle of preparing invitations for our next dinner on Saturday October 14th at Taix Restaurant.
I will be doing a little catching up here tonight, and attempt to get into bed early for any breaking news from Chicago in the morning.
Sent: Wednesday, September 20, 2006 3:03 PM
To: zzAll LATimes Employees
(Managers and supervisors: Please share this information with your employees who do not have e-mail. Thank you.)
Dear Colleague -
Since last Thursday, there has been considerable media attention given to the Los Angeles Times, Tribune Company, and our future. While it's awkward to see one's internal deliberations covered so broadly, the issues are important and I believe warrant further comment to bolster your confidence in our resolve to work through these issues together.
Yesterday, Scott Smith and I met in Chicago to discuss recent developments, including the letter from community leaders and Dennis FitzSimons' response, the media coverage and, most importantly, our plans to move forward constructively. We affirmed our fundamental objectives to effectively serve readers, advertisers, our communities and shareholders. We also talked about how the Los Angeles Times has to play a leadership role, both in Southern California and in Tribune initiatives.
All media organizations are facing unprecedented changes that challenge us immensely. The changing media landscape also provides important opportunities for new products, new readers and new revenue. Scott and I both believe we have a talented team here in Los Angeles to tackle these challenges. Tribune's company-wide resources and scale are also key advantages.
Earlier this year, we laid out our vision for growth. It is focused on Reconnecting with Southern California, Owning Entertainment and Winning in Local Online. We have a number of great initiatives underway, from the redesign of the core paper's news sections to the relaunch of The Envelope.com in print and online. We will continue to accelerate our pace of innovation across all areas to keep up with the region and world we cover.
Yesterday, I also reiterated our commitment to build a credible financial plan in the coming weeks that is grounded in actions and initiatives that efficiently build readership and revenue.
Ultimately, both the Los Angeles Times and Tribune need to grow to be a healthy organization -- through great newspapers and launching more offerings than we have today. That is the challenge before us, and we need everyone engaged, working together to meet that challenge. Thank you all for your dedication to achieving our shared goals as we start the next 125 years.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
The chairman of Tribune Co. defended his stewardship of the Los Angeles Times on Monday, telling community leaders that the Chicago-based media company had made substantial improvements at the paper over the last six years.
Dean Baquet's Alamo
The general public may shrug it shoulders, but this battle is indeed of titanic proportions for journalists and for the future of journalism. Baquet has been joined in his public defiance by none other than publisher Jeff Johnson. And by an ad hoc group of 19 L.A. luminaries who suggest that the best thing to do is for the Tribune Co. to back off and maybe to relinquish control of the Times to local entrprenuers (several local billionaires including David Geffen have already volunteered to make the buy). The letter is a noble gesture but is likely to be taken pretty much the same way as if Davey Crockett had risen above the parapets to shout out to General Santa Ana: "Go Back to Mexico!"
Serving the Public or the Pocketbook?
Since when did journalism become about making money rather than being the "watchdog" for the American people? The focus of our newspapers needs to be changed and soon. A round of applause to Los Angeles Times editor Dean P. Baquet and publisher Jeffrey M. Johnson for refusing to make the cuts. It may be an unanswered cry for change at this point, but I hear them loud and clear.
Tribune's Plan to Cut Paper's Staff Sparks Revolt
The editor and publisher of the Los Angeles Times are rejecting the demands of their bosses to make additional cuts this year. The Tribune Company also owns the Chicago Tribune, Newsday and eight other dailies, 26 television stations and the Chicago Cubs.
As Times-Tribune Co. Standoff Grows, Bloggers Take Sides
Predicting that the duo's defiance would cost them their jobs, "A top executive at a large newspaper chain" gave this choice quote: "I hope those guys have their career plans well made," he said, "because you do not tell Dennis FitzSimons and those guys at Tribune you are not going to do something. If you do, you are going to be on the beach, real soon."
He is currently on life support.
Hal was known to the men and women of the Downtown, Chatsworth, and Olympic pressroom’s as Happy Hal. That’s because not much bothered him.
Let us pray for Hal.
Can good newspaper journalism make money? (Rational Review)
Pressure Builds On Tribune To Sell L.A. Times (The Huffington Post)
LA Times Editor Plays Hardball With Tribune Co (Daily Dog)
L.A. Times editor balking at job cuts (Canadian Journalist)
Geffen Makes An Offer for LATimes (Wonky Muse)
The Lost Angeles Times: Mutiny On The Not-So-Bountiful (Hugh Hewitt)
Mr. George Kieffer Mr. Robert Simonds
Mr. Edward J. Avila Mr. Blair H. Taylor
The Honorable Warren Christopher Ms. Liza White
Ms. Maria Elena Durazo Ms. Antonia Hernandez
Ms. Elise Buik Mr. Brendan Huffman
Mr. Geoffrey Cowan Mr. Stewart Kwoh
Mr. David Fleming Robert K. Ross, M.D.
Mr. Ronald Gastelum Mr. Steven L. Soboroff
Ms. Irene Hirano Mr. Gary Toebben
Mr. John Mack Mr. Matt Toledo
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for your letter of September 12 regarding the Los Angeles Times. We
appreciate your deep interest in the Times, and are in total agreement with your view
of the vital role it plays in serving Southern California. We also absolutely agree that
the Times is a great newspaper and that it is important it remain so. We are also
confident you understand that in order to continue succeeding, great newspapers must
constantly evolve based on changes in the media environment and the communities they
Tribune's own evolution in the newspaper industry began in 1847, when the first 400
copies of the Chicago Tribune were printed on a hand press in a one-room plant.
Joseph Medill, the legendary publisher, shaped the newspaper in its early years and
instilled a sense of journalistic integrity that remains intact today. We feel strongly
that great journalism is the foundation for everything that we do—it has been for 160
years. And, during its history, Tribune newspapers frequently have been honored with
journalism’s highest recognition—winning the Pulitzer Prize 100 times. The Times
itself has won 13 Pulitzers since being acquired by Tribune in 2000—five more than it
won in the ten years prior to our ownership.
Importantly, we also believe that outstanding journalism is vital to our business success.
Your letter addresses staffing and the management of financial resources necessary to
make a reasonable profit at the Los Angeles Times. To provide context, the Times’
revenues today are actually below where they were at the time of our acquisition in
2000, due to structural changes in the media industry, as well as the industries of our
largest advertiser categories – automotive, movies and retailing.
In terms of editorial expense, the portion of the Times’ total revenues dedicated to news
coverage is currently almost double what it was during what many refer to as the "golden
age" of the newspaper, under publisher Otis Chandler. It is also higher than in 1999,
prior to our acquisition of Times Mirror. In fact, the Los Angeles Times has the largest
editorial staff and budget of any metropolitan newspaper in America without nationwide
Over the past six years, the Times’ leadership team, with Tribune’s encouragement and
support, has taken a number of significant steps to improve the newspaper, placing more
emphasis on coverage of Southern California news, outstanding investigative reporting
and expanded coverage of the entertainment industry. We expect additional emphasis
on Southern California news in the future.
To cite just a few improvements:
• Many reader-focused section improvements have been completed. These include
Calendar, California, Food, Health, Home and West magazine.
• In 2003, the Times launched its fifth regional edition, The Inland Empire,
featuring expanded coverage of local and regional news/issues in Riverside and
San Bernardino counties.
• There has been significant expansion of the staff of latimes.com. Research shows
that latimes.com traffic is growing, and we expect further growth from this
talented team that has been supported with significant budget increases.
Tribune has also made over $250 million in capital investments in the Times, designed
to further improve quality of the newspaper, enhance revenue growth needed to finance
great journalism and improve efficiency through upgraded technology.
• Increased color printing capacity at the Times by 33% to give readers and
advertisers a more engaging newspaper.
• A new production facility in Irwindale to automate insertion of preprinted
• State-of-the-art technology to enhance advertising, circulation, and editorial
• State-of-the-art space for the Times in Tribune’s Washington, D.C. multimedia
We will continue to make major investments to better and more efficiently serve
customers of the Times and all our other newspapers. We believe the collective scale of
our company and the ability to collaborate across markets enhances our ability to do so.
Tribune and the Times are deeply committed to effectively serving our communities,
readers, advertisers and shareholders in this rapidly changing media environment. This
requires that decisions at the newspaper be made on a dynamic, forward-looking basis
to deploy our very talented people and other resources to where they are most needed to
achieve these goals.
We are committed to a company-wide expense control program to offset inflationary
cost increases and better deploy our resources to where they create the most value for
customers. As our largest business unit, the Times will participate appropriately in
these initiatives, all in the context of our customer and community focus.
The issue of local versus corporate ownership has received much attention in recent
months. Neither is inherently better, but one only needs to look east to Dallas, New York
or Washington to realize that outstanding, locally-controlled newspapers are not insulated
from the competitive realities of today’s media marketplace. And looking north to Santa
Barbara highlights other issues that can develop under local ownership.
We would ask you to remember the L. A. Times as it was prior to being acquired by
Tribune. Ownership was local, but as you may recall, the newsroom was in an uproar
over a breach of journalistic ethics related to publication of a special advertising section.
The publisher and editor were under fire from the newsroom, as was Times Mirror’s
chief executive officer. The editorial integrity of the newspaper was in question.
Tribune changed that by returning the newspaper’s focus to the practice of great
journalism. We appointed a talented publisher and editor, set parameters, and then
stepped aside and let them do their jobs. The new team improved the quality of the
paper and we have been very proud of the many journalistic achievements and awards
earned by the Times during our ownership.
In summary, we hope you will evaluate the Los Angeles Times and its related websites,
not on the ownership structure or the size of their editorial staff or budget, but on how
well they serve the community’s needs. We’re confident that by that measure—or any
other—the Times is, and under Tribune ownership will continue to be, a truly great
Thank you again for your letter. I hope to be seeing many of you in Los Angeles soon.
SOURCE Kevin Roderick