Wednesday, February 20, 2008

We're in a crisis

Zell tells his partners in Chicago that his boorish language isn't "disrespecting anybody". He's trying to make everybody uncomfortable. "This business has been eroding before your eyes and you're worried about my language? ... Everything I said was with an intent to get everybody to get off their [behinds] and understand this is a crisis. We've got to save this business. We've got to make this work. And we've got to prioritize what we get all pushed out of shape about. ... If we keep operating the way we've been operating, there is no future."

Employees don't need another reason to be uncomfortable. The people who do the work — write, shoot, edit, design, sell, and produce and pour their hearts, souls and talent into making the papers meaningful and important to readers and advertisers — worry everyday whether or not their Tribune careers will end in a few weeks. They are not the ones that created Tribune's crisis. Maybe the corporate suits need to get off their asses and understand they need to change the way they operate, find that new business model that will turn the print industry around.

Dumping 500 partners is a short-term fix. Tribune (and the whole industry) needs a long-term solution. To his credit, Zell invited every employee/owner to offer up their creative ideas for change.

Who knows? The idea for long-term success may come from one of Tribune's rank and file partners.

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