Tales of the Tribune Co.: It’s All Gone Straight to Zell

40_zell_ggsam.gi.jpg“If current trends in advertising are permanent, we have a really serious problem.” No kidding. Words to live by from Sam Zell who may have met his Waterloo in the form the Tribune deal he orchestrated last year, which he is currently referring to as “the deal from hell.” No doubt slightly more hellish for the couple of hundred employees that have lost their jobs in the past few months. And it’s not going to get better anytime soon thanks in large part to the enormous debt Zell has piled on, which “is forcing Tribune to take more and more desperate actions.” It’s unclear whether the fact Zell threatened to “cut off their ties” of Tribune executives “if he caught them looking so formal at future meetings” is one of them. Also worrisome: Zell’s obvious disdain for the newspaper business, his questionable hiring practices, and the fact that his COO, Randy Michaels, a former “shock jock, has installed “jukeboxes, pinball machines, and a sculpture of a six-legged man running in circles.”

Meanwhile, in a scraping the barrel sort of way, there is some good news coming out of the Tribune-owned LA Times. Top editor Russ Stanton told staffers that the recent newsroom “deep cuts” had numbered 135, instead of the expected 150, and that fewer pages would be lost. So there, the road to newspaper hell is not without its tiny rays of sunshine.