Oct 5, 2010

Randy Michaels denies Tribune-turned-frat house story

David Carr at the New York Times writes about a "rugged ride" at the bankrupted Tribune Co. under the management of owner Sam Zell and chief executive Randy Michaels. The story describes a frat-house executive suite that reined over a crumbling empire.

From the NYT story:
Mr. Zell and Mr. Michaels, who was promoted to chief executive of the Tribune Company in December 2009, arrived with much fanfare, suggesting they were going to breathe innovation and reinvention into the conservative company. 

By all accounts, the reinvention did not go well. At a time when the media industry has struggled, the debt-ridden Tribune Company has done even worse. Less than a year after Mr. Zell bought the company, it tipped into bankruptcy, listing $7.6 billion in assets against a debt of $13 billion, making it the largest bankruptcy in the history of the American media industry. More than 4,200 people have lost jobs since the purchase, while resources for the Tribune newspapers and television stations have been slashed. 

The new management did transform the work culture, however. Based on interviews with more than 20 employees and former employees of Tribune, Mr. Michaels’s and his executives’ use of sexual innuendo, poisonous workplace banter and profane invective shocked and offended people throughout the company. Tribune Tower, the architectural symbol of the staid company, came to resemble a frat house, complete with poker parties, juke boxes and pervasive sex talk.
Michaels has pushed back against the story. In a memo posted by LA Observe, he says Carr dug up old, discredited allegations and describes the company culture as "creative" and "fun." From the Michaels memo:
Mr. Carr has made clear that he is digging up these old allegations because he believes that decisions about the company’s management are about to be made, and he wants to influence those decisions. Mr. Carr knows that an outside firm investigated the most substantial of these allegations, and that they were found to be without substance. Mr. Carr intends to use them anyway.
(Found via LA Observed)


Anonymous said...

The performance of the management team speaks for itself.

As Tom Lasorda said, "what's my opinion of Kingman's performance!"

Those who have been in Los Angeles for more than ten minutes or in the biz will understand.

Anonymous said...

in my opinion, there is only one item without substance...mr michaels.