MediaFile

“A more gentlemanly version of the Chicago Tribune”

colonel tribuneIf anything demonstrates the stark contrast between the buttoned-up Tribune Co of yore versus the radio jockeys -led Tribune Co of now, it’s the illustration that greets readers  on the Chicago Tribune web site’s error page.

If you’re expecting  “a former waitress at Knockers — the place for hot racks and cold brews,” as a Sam Zell-led Tribune press release once trumpeted a new hire,  you will be disappointed.

Instead, visitors are welcomed by one Colonel Tribune pictured on the left. He’s even on Facebook and describes himself as the following,  ”Colonel Tribune is a man about town in Chicago. He’s also a more gentlemanly version of the Chicago Tribune.”

(Photo: Chicago Tribune)

Media, tech moguls meet in New York (You are NOT invited)

Media and technology executives are meeting Wednesday and Thursday in New York City at a conference hosted by private equity firm Quadrangle. Note the word private.

When they meet at the Plaza, they will talk about a ton of different things that their customers, their investors and other readers want to know. I have to apologize for them because they’re not letting in any riff-raff. And that includes reporters who get paid to spend all day figuring out how these people decide what kind of entertainment you want, what kind of technology you pay them for and what deals they pursue with the money that you give them when you buy their stock. This event always excludes press, but that’s no reason not to highlight what you probably are missing because of this. After all, who wants to wait for the 8-K filing?

Some press will be allowed, but it will be an assortment of celebrity journalists who will moderate panels and, according to Peter Kafka, author of “MediaMemo” at News Corp’s AllThingsD blog, will not write about the event (I’m talking about Maria Bartiromo and David Faber of CNBC, The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta, etc).

Tribune365, thinking beyond newspaper circulation

Monday’s newspaper circulation numbers please no one who makes their living from selling papers. That’s evident when you look at the top 25 dailies by circulation and see that the best performance came from The Wall Street Journal, which rose less than 1 percent. Considering that advertisers use these numbers to determine where to spend their money, there is little reason to rejoice.

Tribune Co’s two largest papers, the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, both posted steep declines on Monday, but the company is urging advertisers to look beyond numbers that it considers less relevant than they were before the Internet. Instead, it wants them to look at how many people they can reach through Tribune’s diverse lineup of papers, websites and television stations.

To make this easier, Tribune has started “Tribune365,” a “multichannel sales solutions group providing customized marketing programs to advertisers looking to reach consumers across a variety of media platforms.” (More on what this means — in English — below.)

Los Angeles Times staffers fear more layoffs coming

We feel like we’ve read this bad news before. Our sources tell us that they are expecting another round of layoffs in the Los Angeles Times newsroom. They said that people thought a few dozen editorial staffers could get their walking papers this week, though someone else close to the paper whom we spoke cautioned that amount was too extreme.

The paper hasn’t scheduled any meetings or circulated any memos, the sources said. In other words, all this could change. A Times spokeswoman declined to comment.

The blog Laobserved.com, which follows the Times closely, reported that at least one reporter, Tina Daunt, has posted on her Facebook page that she has been canned. “More expected through the day,” the blog also reported.

The New York Times tries local news, far away

If you read often enough about the supposed death of the newspaper business, you would think that the nation’s newsrooms are increasingly depopulated, barren places, with darkened offices and empty cubicles… the occasional tumbleweed blowing past. (Actually,  large stretches of Tribune Co’s New York bureau look just like that, as I saw earlier this year).

In San Francisco, Chicago and other metropolitan centers, you would be wrong. It’s true that both cities bear unfortunate marks of how rough the advertising decline, rise of the Internet and financial crisis have treated their news operations: Hearst was toying with shutting down the San Francisco Chronicle, and Chicago’s leading daily papers, the Tribune and the Sun-Times, are owned by bankrupt companies. Improbably enough, both are turning into hot spots for local news competition.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal are fighting over San Francisco, and a private equity guy has teamed up with KQED and UC Berkeley to try a nonprofit local news experiment. And now, the Times reported on Wednesday, it is targeting some other cities, including Chicago. Here is an excerpt from reporter Richard Perez-Pena’s writeup on the Times’s decoder blog:

Tribune: Slow train coming

Bankrupt publisher and TV broadcaster Tribune Co filed for bankruptcy last December, and it’s looking increasingly like next December might be the first time we see what the new company will look like. Here is what the company’s Chicago Tribune newspaper reported Tuesday morning:

The parent company of the Chicago Tribune is scheduled to deliver a plan Aug. 4 but wants to extend that deadline to Nov. 30.

Citing the complex nature of the case, Tribune said in a filing it needs more time to build consensus around a plan. It also said the outcome of the pending sale of the Chicago Cubs could have a “material impact” on the plan.

Baltimore Sun fires reporters during baseball game

The headline says it all, and adds a nasty twist to this week’s purge at The Sun in Baltimore. Here’s part of The Guardian’s report on how the Tribune-owned Sun did the deed:

The group, consisting of three writers and a photographer, were told the news as they reported back from a game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Los Angeles Angels in a move that was documented by a fellow reporter online.

“Tough times in the newspaper biz,” wrote the OC Register’s Bill Plunkett as an aside during his inning-by-inning update from the game. “Two writers for the Baltimore Sun in the press box here got the news – by phone, during the game – that they had been laid off in the latest round of cost-cutting. Stay classy, Baltimore Sun management.”

Tribune Co papers hit where it hurts, Baltimore Sun slashed

Tribune Co keeps the layoffs coming at its newspapers as the media company moves through the bankruptcy court process.

The Sun: Over in Baltimore, we heard from a source that 21 editors — including most of the metro editing staff and two top editorial editors — were herded into offices and told they had to exit the building immediately. Editor & Publisher confirms this report and says more cuts might be coming as soon as today. Perhaps there’s a strategy in there, but it’s hard to tell what it is when most big-city dailies have abandoned their ambitious overseas reporting goals, saying their real value to the community is their local reporting franchise. UPDATE: Looks like at least 40 more people are getting laid off as we speak, according to two sources I just spoke to at 3pm eastern.

And another UPDATE: A Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild memo says a whopping 27 percent of the Sun’s staff is getting laid off.

Did *anyone* like the Los Angeles Times ads?

You have to hand it to Sam Zell and his band of outsiders at bankrupt media company Tribune Co. They are going to remake the newspaper business if it kills them.

The gang got broiled for a front-page ad that the Los Angeles Times ran last week that looked like an article. After that outcry, the Tribune-owned paper did it again, this time with another an ad supplement for Paramount’s movie, “The Soloist.” That one includes an interview with Steve Lopez, the Times columnist who wrote the book that became the movie. The ad also ran under the LA Times’s own banner.

As it turns out, nearly everyone who cares enough to talk about these ads in public despises them. You could have said that LA Times employees were just kvetching when they circulated a petition voicing their opposition to the ads — broke down and dispirited by bankruptcy, and repeated waves of layoffs, they stuck to the old line that there needs to be a distinction between ads and editorial copy for various ethical reasons.

L.A. Times staffers fume over front-page ad

The decision by the Los Angeles Times to run a front-page ad that looks like a news story has raised eyebrows in media circles. LAT staffers, meanwhile, are raising their pitchforks.

Horrified by what they see as a deceptive blurring of the line between paid advertising and news stories, some 100 employees at the paper have signed a petition to Publisher Eddy Hartenstein “strenuously” objecting.

“This place already had horrible morale problems with decimating layoffs, but now to have our publisher whore out the front page is more than we can stand,” one editorial staff member told Reuters. “It blurs the line between paid content and content that our reporters are producing.”