Tribune CEO Resigns in the Midst of Company’s Financial & Corporate Culture Crisis

The Chicago Tribune CEO, Randy Michaels is stepping down. This is the second executive position shuffle that the company will have to go through in less than a year. Michaels has been in office since last December, when he took over Sam Zell’s position.

The timing could not have been worse. The company is struggling financially. Zell had set up a plan for the company to overcome its bankruptcy, and he also privatized the company. And it seems that this stage exit propped by Randy Michaels won’t be any good for the company’s ambitious turnaround plan. The CEO’s resignation was preceded by the oust of Lee Abrams based on an inappropriate email issue. Analysts say:

The stories of Tribune’s debauched executive culture and the unceremonious exiting of two top corporate officers comes at just the moment when the company’s nearly two-year bankruptcy ordeal could be wrapping up. It’s probably not a coincidence, considering how quickly things soured after Sam Zell took the company over in a complicated $8.2 billion acquisition in Dec. 2007 that employed a massive amount of debt and the company’s tax-exempt employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), putting staffers’ retirements at risk.

As much as top management and maybe their mismanagement is to blame for the company’s situation, we can not ignore the declining industry trends. This is a situation reflecting the changes the print industry is going through. The New York Times reported low numbers for Q3 this week. This means that, just, doing the things right won’t be enough for the Tribune, rather they must redefine their whole strategy and do the right thing. They must take into account the changing attitude of consumer towards news. New York Times have taken the lead in this regard and have rearranged their investments directing more funds towards online news delivery mechanisms.