December 8, 2008

Analyst: Zell mortgaged the future of Tribune employees to pursue “a childhood fantasy” DealBook
“The employees were put in a very bad situation,” says analyst Jack Newman. He noted long before Monday’s bankruptcy filing: “If there is a problem with the company, most of the risk is on the employees, as Sam Zell will not own Tribune shares. The cash will come from the sweat equity of the employees of Tribune.”
>LATer: “No love lost between employees here and Zell”
>Bankruptcy looks like just another phase in Zell’s strategy
>Filing won’t make things much worse — or improve things
>Ebert: At least Lord Black was a newspaperman with taste
>Tribune’s letter to advertisers | Tribune story | LAT story
>Odds stacked against Tribune from the moment Zell bought it

The Tribune Company, purchased last year by Sam Zell, announced Monday that it had filed for bankruptcy protection. Zell said:

“So, how did we get here? It has been, to say the least, the perfect storm. A precipitous decline in revenue and a tough economy have coupled with a credit crisis, making it extremely difficult to support our debt. All of our major advertising categories have been dramatically impacted.

“By restructuring our debt, we will reduce the pressure on the company’s operating businesses, enabling us to pursue our vision of creating a sustainable, cutting-edge media company that is valued by our readers, viewers, and advertisers, and that plays a vital role in the communities we serve. This filing should not impact the way you do your jobs on a day-to-day basis. We will continue to operate responsibly in a challenging environment -– aggressively managing costs and maximizing revenue opportunities. These are all things we would do whether or not we were restructuring our debt.”

Here’s a timeline of related financial developments since Zell purchased the company:

Here’s a timeline of Zell’s deal to purchase the Tribune Company:

Here’s a timeline of Newsday sale stories:

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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…
Jim Romenesko

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