Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Way Things Were

From The Daily Pulp by Bob Norman:

Above is a photograph taken in 2003 of the giant Miami Herald staff at the time. It looks like a small city. And it's probably been cut in half during the past couple of years.

The photo was taken in honor of the newspaper's 100th anniversary, an occasion that was marked with an extensive and illuminating special section (actually, there were two of them). The kicker is that the Herald probably didn't hit the century mark that year. So it's probably safe to say that the equivalent of everyone past that third palm tree on the right has vanished. The purists at the newspaper said that the 100-year mark wouldn't be hit until 2010 (in part because the newspaper celebrated its 80th anniversary in 1990 -- yeah, do the math). Forgetting that minor snag, the mainbar story was written by Martin Merzer, one of the downsized reporters. Some notable contributors included Dave Barry, Edna Buchanan, and the late, great Gene Miller, who wrote a fine piece about the history of the newspaper and newsroom along with the best corrections ever published by the paper.

Ironically: The anniversary issue had the date wrong. The date was listed as 2002 instead of 2003. But really, what difference does a year make?

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Tribune Finalizes $845 Million Sale
of Cubs, Wrigley Field, 25% Stake in SportsNet

Tribune Co. made it official Friday, announcing an $800 million deal to sell the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field and a 25% stake in Comcast SportsNet to the Ricketts family.

Tribune will retain a 5% stake in the assets, as expected, which means the overall transaction is valued at about $845 million, Tribune said. [Click for MORE]

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Zell's ESOP Fable

Tribune Employees Are Shortchanged

Tribune's short-lived experiment with employee ownership is coming to an end.

While Tribune is still navigating the bankruptcy process, the creditors are unlikely to keep the employee stock ownership plan, leaving workers with worthless shares, a source involved in the negotiations said.

In 2007, real-estate tycoon Sam Zell used the stock plan, called an ESOP, to gain tax benefits on the $8.2 billion buyout of the struggling company.

The plan made employees official owners with 100 percent of the equity, but they have no say over management or the board. In the bankruptcy, they are viewed as common shareholders with less claim than other creditors. [Click for MORE]

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CBS Ad Puts Video Inside a Magazine

Video is invading a new medium: print.

In a marketing stunt to promote its fall TV series, CBS Corp. is inserting thousands of tiny screens in copies of the Time Warner Inc. publication Entertainment Weekly.

The screens measure two and a quarter inches diagonally and play about 40 minutes of clips from new and old CBS shows.

The video begins with a cheeky intro to the "video-in-print" technology, starring characters from the show "The Big Bang Theory."

After that, the reader/viewer can push a spot on the cardboard insert that holds the screen and watch a clip of the sitcom "Two and a Half Men." Push another to see a preview of the new crime-investigation spinoff "NCIS: Los Angeles." Another delivers an ad for PepsiCo Inc., which is helping fund the promotion. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

The Journalism Shop Sells
Freelancers' Skills Inside, Outside Newsrooms

The Journalism Shop is a network of former Los Angeles Times staffers seeking work both in and out of journalism.

It's the "out of journalism" aspect that strikes as the most interesting dimension of The Journalism Shop. The two dozen journalists featured on the site list years and years of journalism credentials. But they also list the kind of skills that extend beyond the realm of storytelling.

And that's posing a bit of a problem for the site. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Operating Management Will Stay With TribCo

Responding to recent media reports he called "inaccurate," a top Tribune Co. executive sent a note to the company's employees Thursday saying that Tribune Co.'s current "operating management" intends to stay at the company following the Chicago media conglomerate's emergence from bankruptcy court.

Randy Michaels, Tribune's chief operating officer, also termed "absurd" suggestions in the reports that the company might be liquidated as part of its Chapter 11 plan of reorganization. [Click for MORE]
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Behind That Beer Photo

This was taken in the 1959 World Series in Chicago, when a fan accidentally knocked his glass of beer into the face of White Sox left fielder Al Smith making a vain attempt to catch a home run sailing over the wall. The photo gained worldwide attention, but there are two back stories to the picture that still are not widely known.

The photographer was Ray Gora, one of a legendary group of "shooters" assigned to the Tribune sports department in an era when cameras were expensive and sports photography actually took knowledge of the games. In an interview not long before he died a few years ago, Ray, always a class act, told retold his tale emphasizing a couple of key points. [Click for MORE]

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TV News Pioneer Don Hewitt Dead at 86.

Don Hewitt, who changed the course of broadcast news by creating the television magazine "60 Minutes," fusing journalism and show business as never before, and who then presided over the much-copied program for nearly four decades, died Wednesday at his home in Bridgehampton, N.Y. He was 86. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Zell Gives Up

Report: Ready to leave TribCo.

The New York Post is reporting that Zell is "ready to walk away" from the Tribune Company, ending one of the most inglorious chapters of newspaper ownership in Chicago history.

And just to make sure Zell has gotten the message from angry creditors already reportedly organizing a putsch, those lenders have now asked a bankruptcy court for permission to investigate Zell's kinky and controversial $8.2 billion takeover of the media giant,according to the Sun-Times. [Click for MORE]

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Bakersfield Californian Goes Tabloid

One of the last family-owned daily newspapers in the state, the Bakersfield Californian, unveiled a new look on Monday – going to a tabloid format five days a week.

It says it will retain the traditional “broadsheet” format for its Saturday and Sunday editions. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Bill Schorr Returns to Editorial Cartooning

After one of the briefest retirements on record, Bill Schorr has returned to editorial cartooning. Daryl Cagle, whose syndicate, Cagle Cartoons, Inc., will now carry Schorr's work, made the announcement on his blog Monday.

"We're very excited," Cagle told E&P Online. "He's a star. I read him as a kid growing up in L.A., and we're delighted to have him." [Click for MORE]

NOTE: Bill Schorr was the last great cartoonist at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Zell May Give Up Claim to Buy Tribune Stake

Steve Greenberg via LA Observed

Tribune Co. chief executive Sam Zell is close to giving up his claims to buy a 40 percent stake in the company, the New York Post said, citing a source familiar with the matter.

Zell looks ready to give up a warrant, which he negotiated as part of his $8.2 billion deal to take the company private in 2007, according to the paper.

The warrant gives Zell the right to buy about 40 percent of the company for $500 million and is the basis of his control over Tribune Co, the paper said. [Click for MORE]

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Monday, August 17, 2009

New TV Spot

H/T: Ed Padgett Sphere: Related Content

Tribune Co. Creditors Seek Special Counsel
to Probe Buyout, Could Sue to Recover Money

Tribune Co. creditors have asked the bankruptcy court for permission to hire special counsel to further investigate the $8.2 billion leveraged buyout of the Chicago-based media company engineered by real estate magnate Sam Zell.

The inquiry is common practice when a bankruptcy follows closely on the heels of an LBO, said bankruptcy experts. Zell closed the transaction that took Tribune Co. private in December 2007. The new debt obligations were too big a burden amid rapidly declining advertising revenues, sending the company, parent of the Chicago Tribune, into bankruptcy in December 2008.

Creditors have not filed a lawsuit seeking to recover money against parties that were involved in the going-private transaction, which established an employee stock ownership plan to become majority owner of the company. But the court filing on Thursday signaled that they are considering pursuing litigation, said Chicago-based restructuring expert Bill Brandt. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content