Two months after I stopped working for Tribune Company, David Carr published his takedown in the New York Times, “At Flagging Tribune, Tales of a Bankrupt Culture”. Ten days later, Chief Innovation Officer Lee Abrams, resigned after continued boorish behavior. Three days after that, CEO Randy Michaels resigned at the request of the board of directors. Busy few weeks there at the Tower. But it really wasn’t that simple. And it’s only with a bit of distance away from it that I’m starting to piece together the various elements.
Enter James O’Shea.
To be more accurate, O’Shea had been there all along. He’s an accomplished journalist, serving as the editors of both the Tribune Company flagship newspapers: the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. The Deal From Hell is O’Shea’s riveting frontline report about how news industry executives and editors made a series of decisions that systematically endangered journalistic credibility and drove the papers to bankruptcy and quite possibly the brink of extinction. I’m not reading this out of spite or to dance on any graves. My three years working at Tribune were some of the most influential and beneficial years of my career. The people I worked with day to day, the opportunities I was afforded, the self-confidence the experiences engendered– for these things I am forever grateful.
It is because of that gratitude that I am so curious to learn just what the hell happened. I’ve continued to inform myself over the years: “News War”, Page One, Jim Romenesko, LA Observed and a number of other sources have all fed into my amateur attempts to make sense of it all. I am thankful to add James O’Shea and his highly informative book to that list.