The Tribune Company Is Bankrupt

Hamilton Nolan · 12/08/08 02:42PM

The Tribune Company, owner of the LA Times and Chicago Tribune, has filed for bankruptcy. Bummer. Pretty much everyone saw this coming. The company is $12 billion in debt, its revenues are going steadily downward, it's been having round after round of layoffs, and it's run by an angry (but honest!) billionaire gnome and a Ron Jeremy doppelganger of questionable sanity. Its papers will keep publishing, but working journalists are sure to get even more royally screwed before this is all over—their pension plan actually owns the company. Key details below:

Tribune Co. On Verge Of Bankruptcy

Ryan Tate · 12/07/08 08:52PM

Sam Zell's Tribune Company is exploring a bankruptcy filing, the Wall Street Journal and Times are reporting. Profits have fallen faster than the media conglomerate can sell off assets, leaving the company in likely violation of debt covenants and scrounging to pay nearly $1 billion in interest. Of course, nearly two-thirds of the company's $12 billion debt comes from Zell's leveraged buyout of the Tribune last December. The cranky old real estate mogul is like a guy who bought his house with a subprime mortgage: He thought he could refinance before interest rates kicked in, but now the price of his home is plummeting and he's getting desperate.

Die, Traitors

Hamilton Nolan · 12/01/08 12:29PM

Tribune Co. crazy man Lee Abrams to staff: "Revolutions are about 'we'. The leaders need to engage EVERYone. And EVERYone needs to engage the cause. You are either WITH the revolution or AGAINST it. You will either be embraced by the company and win or the company will beat you." Yea, he's lost it. [Romenesko]

"Are the above points valid? I don't know, but that's not the point."

Hamilton Nolan · 11/25/08 10:08AM

Hey, whoa, BLOW UP your television and get ready for DRAMATICALLY DIFFERENT sound and visuals comin atcha from a WIDE SPECTRUM OF NEW HOOKS. This is the future, people. The Tribune Co.'s "Chief Innovation Officer" and craziest dude in the newspaper industry Lee Abrams has some new memo-fied ideas that will have you looking at TV weeded out of your mind a whole new way. Consider: "The old line 'Don't fix it if aint broke' makes no sense. It's like saying: Let it break...then we'll fix it." And that's just the beginning!:


Hamilton Nolan · 10/28/08 10:01AM

The man who shall save newspapers is back with another newspaper-saving memo! Possibly written while under the influence of ibogaine! This time Tribune's Chief Innovation Of New Ways To Make Bongs Officer Lee Abrams is doing what he does best: showering a far-flung newspaper with ideas about how they should do their job, according to none other than career radio man Lee Abrams. "What does Pravda say about our economy?" "Poker is the 21st Century Bridge." Think about it, newspaperpeople! This is hands-down the BEST LEE ABRAMS MEMO YET: And now, Lee Abrams' suggestions to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

Newspaper Fans: "Just wait til the excitement stage happens."

Hamilton Nolan · 10/22/08 12:30PM

Are you aware that the LA Times revealed its redesign this week? Let's hope you are, because this is what's gonna save the paper! What people both inside the Tribune Co. and out really want to know is not, "How does the redesign look?" It's, "What does Tribune Co. Chief Innovation Officer and Vice Admiral of the Martian Army Lee Abrams have to say about it, in his own unmistakable way?" Well: "As we've seen with all the other Tribune newspapers, the 'plunge' is the first step. Nothing more...nothing less." Ha. And?:

Lee Abrams Is Too Rock-n-Roll For The US Government

Hamilton Nolan · 10/16/08 09:14AM

Tribune's Chief Innovation (LOL!) Officer and crazy, crazy clown Lee Abrams snuck into Manhattan yesterday to "speak" at a media conference, using his trademark nonsensical version of "words." Luckily Jeff Bercovici was there to chronicle his wisdom, lest it be lost in the huge cloud of purple haze smoke that, we like to imagine, follows Lee Abrams at all times. I wonder if he got a chance to compare the newspaper industry to rock-n-roll?

"New Media needs some Old thinking to put soulfulness and magic into their mix"

Hamilton Nolan · 10/14/08 09:09AM

Lee Abrams is back—in memo form! The most high innovative exec at Tribune Co., Abrams' job is just to sit around and compose memos full of CAPITALIZATION and deep thoughts on the newspaper industry. Which are classics! His new memo includes the following things: his thoughts on redesigns; one of his old blog posts, in its entirety; a list of the top-grossing music acts of 2008; and a disquisition on old and ratty hotels. After the jump, enlightment:

LA Times To Be Dumbed-Down To Level Of Own Executives

Hamilton Nolan · 10/09/08 01:08PM

The LA Times is considering a redesign. One of their most prominent proposed changes: changing bylines from "Times Staff Writer" To "By (Person), Reporting From (location)," as shown. The sad, likely reason for this change: the fact that Lee Abrams, Tribune's "Innovation" officer and maker of comical pronouncements about newspapers, came into his job not even understanding what bylines and datelines mean: From an Atlantic interview with Abrams via LAObserved:


Hamilton Nolan · 09/30/08 09:12AM

Lee Abrams, Tribune Co.'s "Chief Innovation Officer" of AWESOMENESS (pictured, with top advisers) is back with another hard-rockin', mind-shockin' memo to blow the socks off all you naysayers who thought newspapers could never change! Abrams is already single-handedly responsible for the ten dumbest things said about newspapers this year, and that was before he busted out yesterday talking about "freedom to have so much belief on the brand." Are you trying to upstage your own slammin' track record of badass, Martian declarations on journalism, Lee? I think you are! The Chicago Tribune just unveiled a redesign, which seems like a good occasion for a big old memo from Lee Abrams. High five! All ellipses are in the original text, people:

The Ten Dumbest Things Said About Newspapers This Year. All By The Same Man!

Hamilton Nolan · 09/08/08 01:49PM

Lee Abrams looks like Dunkin Donuts' Fred the Baker without his hair dye. But Fred the Baker got up every day to make donuts, and that's the type of old-style thinking that Lee Abrams is here to destroy! Abrams is the "Chief Innovation Officer" (LOL) of the dying Tribune Company, and also the man who says the most mystifying (and sometimes infuriating) things you will ever hear about the newspaper industry. All the time. Seriously. ""I just try to inpsire people to rethink things," Abrams declared yesterday. "There's no reason we can't create a newspaper renaissance." Ha. Here are ten of Lee Abrams' stupidest "NOT IRRELIVENT" inspirational messages:

Is This The Most Infuriating Newspaper Executive In America?

Nick Denton · 05/06/08 12:28PM

Each time Sam Zell's Tribune Company lays off journalists, puts a title on the block and bemoans the economics of news publishing, his ebullient new innovation czar ups the change rhetoric. Lee Abrams' latest memo, after a visit to Zell's Los Angeles Times, takes incoherent optimism to the level of prose poetry. "BE the city...in 2008. Look forward. Combine Passion with character and muscle. Operate with a sense of swagger that YOU are the city...on today's terms. ...and getting in sync with the speed of 2008 with fast, medium and deep options... and STIMULATING THE EYE."

Hopeless Optimism

Rebecca · 04/18/08 03:13PM

"Tribune will be an oasis of creativity," says Lee Abrams, Innovation Director of the Tribune Co., the only person who believes journalism has a future. [via I Want Media]

Lee Abrams Is Going To Transform The Internet

Rebecca · 03/25/08 04:14PM

Lee Abrams, cool older guy/Tribune Co.'s innovation director is back with another edition of "We Can Take Back The News Cycle," a.k.a. the Tribune Co. internal memo. Among his suggestions: a spoof edition of the Chicago Red Eye for April Fools'. Denigrating a free daily is funny any time of year! He also has great analogies about the internet: "There's the Internet. That's space travel. No limits." And here I thought space travel might actually be fun. How about stats? "MOST VIEWED: I think this can be expanded for the stat hungry public. Most Viewed...good. How about for the week, month, year...how about comparing most viewed to National, International etc...Maybe breaking it out by most viewed by local area." Um, that's familiar. To quote my grandmother, quoting someone else, "We mock what we are to be." [via Romenesko]


Rebecca · 03/13/08 04:25PM

Who is Lee Abrams? Lee Abrams is the hippest 55 year-old you've never met. Lee Abrams is unafraid to use capitalization for emphasis. Lee Abrams believes in the power of inspirational quotes. Lee Abrams is a former XM executive who was recently named "innovation director" at Tribune Co. (who is coincidentally "a longtime friend of Sam Zell deputy Randy Michaels"). And if you work for the Tribune Co., you're in luck because you just got the coolest boss eva.