Michael Tackett, who runs the Chicago Tribune's side of the big bureau in Washington that the LAT dominates, tells Editor & Publisher that his people are ready to work with Sam Zell in the wake of yesterday's controversy.
"He clearly sees bloat and status quo. He wants change," Tackett said about the visit, which included a clear request by Zell for a new operational plan for the bureau. "He said, 'You come up with a plan to fix things, or I will fix it for you.' I look at that as an opportunity. It is time to take it to the next level."
Tackett said bureau staffers are working on a reorganization plan that they will offer to Tribune executives, but had no specifics or timing yet.
"Let's say I am not going to waste a lot of time," he added. "It is a blaring grasp of the obvious what he wants."
"It is a new day and we are kidding ourselves if we donít think the business is in a fundamentally challenging time," he stressed. "The time for standing on ceremony is over."
But reporter Frank James uses a cancer analogy.
"It is like learning you have cancer," James explained. "What are you going to do about it? Give up or figure out how to deal with it?" He said most staffers are taking the approach of offering a solution. "They came in and gave us a dose of the new reality," he added. "The new reality is that revenues are eroding faster than anyone had forecast."