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Summary:

Tribune Chairman Sam Zell — whose company is still in bankruptcy proceedings — went on CNBC today and explained why the bankruptcy process…

Sam Zell
photo: AP Images

Tribune Chairman Sam Zell — whose company is still in bankruptcy proceedings — went on CNBC today and explained why the bankruptcy process has been so difficult. His reasoning: “Big transaction,” “Lot of different players,” and questions about … “how the media and particularly the newspaper side of the business are going to change in the future.”

Zell, who was replaced as CEO in December, provided some of his own answers to the latter question, saying that “going forward, it’s going to require all kinds of different approaches, including probably most significant, the elimination of home delivery and the replacement of it by PDFs.”

That’s an approach that hasn’t been taken by any Tribune newspapers (as far as we know) although, in Detroit, the Media News-owned News and Gannett-owned Free Press have cut back on home delivery to a few days a week and have instead provided subscribers with digital replicas of their papers, although the default view is not PDFs. The relevant part of the interview starts at 1:40:

  1. Does anyone here think Sam Zell, who is essentially a glorified (and highly successful) real-estate broker, has the slightest clue what the future mediascape will look like? If so, I have some oil derived from a mystical Himalayan snake that is sure to increase online revenue by over 50% in the first month alone! Guaranteed ROI. Full payment up front, of course.

    Zell understands real estate — well enough to get obscenely rich off of it — not media in its current or hypothetical state. There couldn’t be more diametrically opposed businesses than real estate and media. Real estate is a commodity driven by speculators. And his highly leveraged acquisition of Tribune Co. (which, ahem, included the valuable real-estate assets Tribune Tower and Times Mirror Square) calls into question his intentions and long-term commitment to the media industry.

  2. It is flabbergasting that this idiot could be given even one minute to talk about the future of newspapers. People like him – and I have worked for a lot of them – are EXACTLY why there will not be any newspapers in five years or less.

    What an unbelievable joke.

  3. But will those PDFs fit through all the internet’s tubes?

  4. millerbeach Friday, July 2, 2010

    I am sick and tired of this man ruining everything he touches. The Tribune is a shadow of its former self. I learned to read with the Chicago Tribune, reading since I was 8 years old. I cannot believe what a shell the paper has become. Whole sections either gutted or eliminated. It used to be a literary joy to pick that paper up and read…now, not so much. Oh, and he has DOUBLED the price of home subscription while cutting it to shreds. Then, take a look at what is going on over at WGN-AM, the once-mighty voice of Chicago. Clowns and jokers now roaming the halls and hosting shows. Disgusting. All in the name of greed. Thanks for nothing, Mr. Zell.

  5. Sam Zell put in a small amount of his significant net worth to destroy one of the best media companies in the entire world, and screw thousands of loyal employees and retirees in the process. Why would I think Zell knows anything, I repeat, ANYTHING , about newspapers now or in the future?
    What a waste of time.

  6. He’s right. Then we could just send the papers out by floppy disk. Desktop publishing–it’s the next big thing.

  7. Institutionalized individuals are “cash cows” for the state of New York
    Posted on June 28th, 2010

    “Nine institutions for New York’s developmentally disabled get nearly $5,000 per person per day in Medicaid reimbursements.” http://www.ire.org/extraextra/

    You can’t get $5,000 per reporter a day. The newspapers were cash cows and now the milk is all sour. Home delivery of milk would be nice along with the newspaper. Use the newspaper trucks to deliver milk.

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