Thoughts on the Tribune bankruptcy

I came back to an office in the suburbs of Chicago yesterday from a lunch with colleagues to the news that The Tribune Company had filed for bankruptcy.  (A journalist told me. Pretty sure it was the NYTimes Dealbook blog I spotted on her screen.)

Thoughts:

  1. This has little to do with Sam Zell’s abrasive attitude, or attempts at sweeping changes throughout the company.
  2. Union members, staffers who took buyouts in 2008, and anyone who put any of their paycheck into the employee ownership scheme in 2008 all appear to the odds-on favorites to be screwed.
  3. Having heard Lee Abrams speak recently, I’ll say this was not the guy who should have been trying to build a culture of innovation at Tribune’s newspapers, but hey, someone had to write the half-crazy memos, right?  It wouldn’t have mattered to the short-term finances of the company if General Patton were giving the motivational speeches.
  4. Bankrupt United Airlines is still in the air.  (Exception to this rule: When I am flying United through O’Hare, one of my flights will be canceled.)

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