Sam Zell

Tribune's innovation guru tones it down

Now that's he actually on the job, Lee Abrams is pleasantly surprised to found there are lots of people in his company who actually know stuff and are open-minded about changing for the future. The biggest change seems to be his — he's even talking now about balance between innovation! and "quality news and information."

From: Abrams, Lee
Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 9:33 AM

First road trip was to meet with the Sun Sentinel guys...and a few Orlando Sentinel's in Ft. Lauderdale. If this is any indication of what the future's all good. They clearly had a ton of energy and the will to move forward. We started off with a presentation (which I hope to deliver around the Tribune Nation) to about 150 of their people talking about designing the future, and a Q&A. Got a good vibe from everyone. I can't help getting the feeling that there's in an extraordinary amount of amazing thinking going on....but it's been repressed. Or that some things that I assumed were held sacred....aren't.

After the presentation, we dove into two days of brainstorming with a smaller group. While I threw out a lot of ideas to get it going, I was blown away by the ideas that started blooming.

Interesting was that there were many different POV's in the room and a great opportunity for Editorial, Financial or other specialists to say---Whoa---No way! Well, there were certainly reality checks involved, but they didn't thwart the spirit of "How can we make this better". The result was an arsenal of ideas under a unified umbrella of direction that went through a reality filter and ARE actionable. In one exercise, we did a "what if" that involved their design teams. They were challenged "Top Chef" style to produce mock ups based on some parameters set forth. No one was eliminated. The two teams came forward with some amazing ideas that both represented what was asked of them, AND based on some complete creative liberties, other new looks. None of these mock ups were geared to do anything more than take the 'what if' to a higher level of discussion. And it did just that. Amazing ideas on the 21st Century newspapers went from abstract to something very real. Nothing that you'll see in tomorrow's paper, but clearly the beginning of some thought out evolutions that I have no doubt will help that newspaper GROW and catch a whole new and smart buzz that is in sync with their history. I sure got the feeling of BALANCE: Quality News and Information being re-thought in the environment of a creative oasis.

Sam Zell archive

More by Kevin Roderick:
Standing up to Harvey Weinstein
The Media
LA Times gets a top editor with nothing but questions
LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
LA Observed Notes: Photos of the homeless, photos that found homes
Recent Sam Zell stories on LA Observed:
Sad but true: Sam Zell writing a book called 'Gravedancer'
New CEO named at Tribune, old publisher at Times
Tribune exits bankruptcy after four years, ending Sam Zell era *
Judge says he will OK Tribune's plan for ending bankruptcy
Finally, some good Sam Zell news
Zell throws a hundred grand Karl Rove's way
Times employees' suit over Zell deal officially wrapped
Tribune has paid $231 million in bankruptcy fees so far


LA Observed on Twitter