Fixing Tribune, one employee at a time

March 26, 2008

Sam Zell in his latest memo tells Tribune employees — the ones who haven’t been spiked — that he’s happy to see them so hard at work coming up with new ideas to help the publisher and broadcaster thrive. Employees have been so helpful, in fact, that Tribune has created an online “IdeaBank” for submissions, rather than the talktoSam AT address that he’s been using. As he explains below, this will let other people in the company see them.

By the way, participation is expected, Zell says. Now get to work.

As I’ve said repeatedly, the best ideas for this company will come from you, and we’ve seen a number of these innovations come to life in the past 60 days, including: a new morning show in Hartford, a free newspaper targeting young adults in Baltimore, a new national news section in Newport News, and spadia ads in Orlando and South Florida. We need to test a lot of ideas; we recognize that some won’t work. But, we’ll never find the ones that do work, unless we try them.
To open up this idea exchange across the company, we are launching an online IdeaBank, accessible via TribLink.
Going forward, I’d like you to direct your ideas to our IdeaBank, rather than sending them to This will enable others across the county to see them. I will still read and respond to all of the ideas that are submitted, and I still encourage you to e-mail me directly with comments and questions.
The IdeaBank has a crowd-sourcing element, so you can tag ideas you think are particularly good. You can also sort ideas by categories, and we’ll feature the top Revenue-Generating ideas, as determined by their popularity, on the front page of the site. We’re placing special emphasis on revenue-generating ideas because, as you know, that is our current focus. (One reminder: Ideas should cost significantly less than the revenue they produce.)
Most importantly, I want to convey that this is not some lighthearted initiative. I expect you to participate. Make deposits. Make withdrawals. Review the ideas to determine how you might adapt them to your business unit. And, managers, by reviewing and analyzing these ideas, you dramatically increase the probability of their viability.
So, be prolific. The future of our company is literally in your hands.

(Photo: Reuters)

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