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A Romenesko reader writes after reading about Tribune’s $231 million bankruptcy bill: “It would be extremely interesting if you can get an estimate of the total news budgets of the Trib papers to compare to the cost of the lawyers.”

Former Chicago Tribune managing editor and Los Angeles Times editor James O’Shea brings that up in his book, The Deal from Hell. He says the fees in the bankruptcy case will likely top out at more than $300 million before it’s over, and figures that would be enough to run the combined Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune newsrooms for more than a year.

* David Carr: “It’s worth thinking about how many boots on the ground $231 million would buy”




A reader sends this email:

Hartford Courant Rips Businessman as Shady, Hires Him as Ad Director

Except for being true, it’s practically Onion copy.

Michael Guinan

In 2008, The Hartford Courant ran a detailed story about a local vanity publisher who chronically stiffed creditors while leading a flashy public lifestyle (“Hartford Magazine’s Guinan: Legacy of Debt”). Over time the paper cheerfully followed up with new reports of the man’s talent for alienating business partners and racking up allegations of business malfeasance.

Now somebody at El Courante has decided Guinan isn’t so bad after all: he’s been hired as the new director of advertising.

It’s a strange world. But you can’t say America’s Oldest Continuously Published Newspaper doesn’t believe in second chances.

HERE’S THE TIMELINE:

January 2008: The Courant runs an investigation headlined, “Hartford Magazine’s Michael Guinan: A Legacy of Debt”

October 2010: The Courant reports Guinan is fired as Hartford Magazine co-publisher following an investigation into financial irregularities at the publication’s parent company.

January 2011: The Courant reports Guinan is accused of diverting funds.

October 2011: Michael Guinan is named Hartford Courant director of advertising.

December 2011: Hartford Courant buys Hartford Magazine.

I’ve invited Guinan and Courant publisher Richard Graziano for comment (check your Facebook emails, gentlemen), and will post any responses that come in. UPDATE: A statement from the Courant’s communications director Jennifer T. Humes is after the jump. Read More

I asked David Carr, whose Oct. 2010 New York Times story exposed Randy Michaels’ shenanigans, to comment on Tribune’s $675,000 payout to its former CEO. Carr wrote in an email:

I’m sure there are some expedient reasons that the TribCo chose to pay Mr. Michaels $675,000 and cover his legal fees, but it sends a clear, bad message to the women and men at the company who continue to do their jobs well in spite of the overhang of bankruptcy process that has gone on far too long.

Dan Neil, who was lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the trustee for Tribune’s employee stock ownership plan, tells me:

I suppose I’m beyond being horrified by anything having to do with Zell and his corporate crony creeps. Michaels is a guy who gets up early in order to have extra time to say and do stupid things. He is a shameless pig and was a singularly pathetic executive, the master of disaster. Please point to the exceptional performance for which he is being rewarded with a “bonus.”