I'm not sure how persuasive this will be in the skittish Times newsroom, but Editor Jim O'Shea just emailed the staff his take on the transfer of Tribune to investor Sam Zell. O'Shea's take is, not surprisingly, that it's a good deal — well, actually he says it's not a bad deal — and he also vows to stay awhile. He did not address gossip that layoffs and buyouts will be announced now that the deal is inked (even if not yet finally approved.)
From: OShea, James
Sent: Monday, April 02, 2007 3:13 PM
To the staff:
I know a lot of people in the newsroom are concerned about today's news regarding the acquisition of the company by Sam Zell and an ESOP. The deal announced by Dennis FitzSimons is complex and raises many questions about the future, particularly since we remain in the early stages of the transaction. I'm almost five months into the job of editor of this great newspaper and I hope my decisions since I've started have earned me some credibility. If I thought this was a bad deal, I would say so. I don't. As with any change of ownership, this transaction carries some risk. We are assuming a heavy debt burden and the problems we face have not disappeared. But Sam Zell is a creative thinker and an inventive entrepreneur. A fresh shot of new thinking is not going to hurt us, along as we remain committed to what is really important, our coverage of the news. Mr. Zell also says he believes in the future of the news business. That is certainly good to hear. We need leaders who think growth is not only possible but within our grasp. Journalism remains the core value of this newspaper and this company, regardless of who owns it.
Since I've arrived, many people have asked me how long I intended to stay. With the announcement of this deal, I can say for a good long time, or as least as long as people in the newsroom will have me. This is a great newsroom with great journalists. I am proud to be your editor. The challenges we face are steep and will likely involve some more pain. But we will succeed. One year, three years, five years from now we will still be producing a great newspaper every day. I will be with you every step of the way.
If you have any other questions or concerns, please drop in to see me, stop me in the newsroom, email or call. I'll be happy to discuss them.
Meanwhile, David Geffen tells the L.A. Times that he's still in the game. "I remain interested in either buying or working out some arrangement to acquire the Los Angeles Times," Geffen says in this afternoon's web update. "I think there is an opportunity for Tribune Co. of Chicago to maximize shareholder value by making some kind of arrangement for the sale of the Los Angeles Times." Geffen said he didn't know if Zell is open to a sale, but said. "I like him and I wish him luck on this acquisition." Nikki Finke says the two are Malibu friends and have been talking. Media interest in today's Tribune deal is pretty high. I've been interviewed by Robert Kovacik at NBC 4, John Schwada at Fox 11 and Michael Linder on KNX 1070, and I'm also a guest on this evening's "Which Way, L.A.?" with Warren Olney on KCRW.