At Tribune, all the news that’s fit to eat

April 1, 2008

Sam Zell has a new round of ideas for how to fix Tribune. Read on for details. (Check Tribune’s temporarily redesigned Web site too, and remember: if you give people puppies, you can pay for Iraq coverage.)

CHICAGO, April 1, 2008-Tribune Company, the largest employee-owned media company in the nation, today announced it has changed its name to ZellCoMediaEnterprises Inc. or ZCMEINC. Zell, who made a fortune in real estate before deciding he’d like to dabble in an industry completely unfamiliar to him, announced the change in his record-setting 437th email to exhausted employees this year.

“H—, I put $315 million into this thing, and we’re on the hook for $13 billion-the least I ought to get is my name on the company’s stationery,” said Zell, who remains chairman and CEO of the newly named enterprise.

The company also announced a series of revenue-generating efforts, including a newly signed $600 million deal to rename historic Tribune Tower in Chicago. The new name of the landmark building will be unveiled at a ceremony held outside its Michigan Avenue entrance at noon today. Zell is expected to attend.

“While everyone was wringing their hands and worrying about renaming Wrigley Field, I went out and got a great company to put its product’s name right over the main entrance to this great building,” said Zell. “Finally we’ll have the money to renovate the place and put in a heating and cooling system that doesn’t date back to the days of Colonel McCormick.”

Just to remind employees of how important it is that the company increase revenue in order to meet its considerable debt payments, the company has installed debt-o-meters at each of its business units and on the company web site, www.tribune.com.

The company, which publishes nine daily newspapers in some of the country’s top markets, also unveiled plans to go completely paperless, using edible ink and a newly designed licorice printing system.

“Now our newspapers can be put to good use for something other than news, information, and lining bird cages,” said Randy Michaels, executive vice president of the company’s broadcasting and internet divisions, who’s also fooling around with newspapers. “Although I’m told it’s a little dry, a family of four will be able to get a week’s worth of nourishment off the Sunday edition of the Chicago Tribune.”

Additional revenue-generating initiatives can be found on the company’s web site, www.tribune.com.

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[...] Tribune Co is keeping media reporters and headline writers busy these days with news of how the company is trying to turn around its newspaper business and stay afloat under billions of dollars in debt – all while creating a culture that, as Chicago real estate tycoon and newly minted press baron Sam Zell says, does not take itself too seriously. [...]