O'Shea blasts ex-Tribune execs, current editor in new book

Crain's Chicago Business

Former Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times newsman James O'Shea's recently published "The Deal from Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers" has plenty about "uncouth clown" Sam Zell, and also aims some harsh criticism at former Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons and current editor Gerry Kern. Shia Kapos writes:

Mr. O'Shea calls Mr. FitzSimons "petty, mean-spirited and almost obsessively single-minded. I think his tendency to be a meddling micro-manager also exposed his hostility to journalists." The author notes that Mr. FitzSimons' irritation that the paper would run a picture of a gay couple kissing on the front page.

FitzSimons walked away from Tribune with $40 million after Zell took over.

Kapos writes that O'Shea -- now Chicago News Cooperative editor-in-chief -- was vexed by Kern's "elaborate reports full of color-coded pie and bar charts" that pointed out when Tribune newspapers overlapped coverage. (This was covered by E&P when Kern was named editor in 2008.)

"Synergy was the Trojan horse with which FitzSimons and Kern attacked the values of journalists, cut costs and set their focus on local news because it was often cheaper to produce," writes Mr. O'Shea.

Former Tribune CEO Randy Michaels is covered in the book, too:

There's also the story about "the million-dollar idea." To motivate employees to offer up good ideas during a time of layoffs and budget cuts, Mr. Michaels had $1 million in cash brought in by way of a Brinks truck "so they could put it on the floor and people could roll around in it and get their picture taken."

  • Jim Romenesko

    From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August of 1999, after seeing his MediaGossip.com, a hobby site he started in May of 1999.

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