When he was the top guy at a media company, Sam Zell liked to hurl the f-word at his damnable journalists. The latest CEO of Tribune Company, Peter Liguori, appears to have more respect for his employees. His email today after a month on the job is full of praise for, you know, stories. Observing the product of a busy month for news, he writes that "watching the work of our reporters, photojournalists, producers, editors, and technicians has been extremely impressive, often inspiring." Of course, how many he will end up laying off or selling, we don't really know. But for now, it's a good sound.
From: Peter Liguori
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 9:11 AM
Subject: My first month
The first month of my time at Tribune has been marked by some extraordinary news events—the massive snowstorm on the East coast, the inauguration of a President and the resignation of a Pope, the manhunt for Christopher Dorner, and a blackout at the Super Bowl, to name just a few. Our coverage of these events has been equally extraordinary. I don’t want that to go unnoticed.
Watching the work of our reporters, photojournalists, producers, editors, and technicians has been extremely impressive, often inspiring. As I have traveled around the company the last few weeks, I’ve gotten the opportunity to see first-hand the power and reach of our media businesses and, more importantly, the talent and dedication of our people. The experience has given me a much better understanding of how we work together across the company and how our media assets complement each other.
Let me mention a couple of examples.
Throughout the snowstorm, WPIX (New York) and WTIC (Hartford) provided extensive live coverage, giving viewers the vital information necessary to enable them to better prepare for what was coming and to navigate the aftermath. These stations also provided live shots and video under incredibly harsh conditions to the rest of our station group, significantly enhancing our coverage of this major story. The storm hit Connecticut especially hard and the Hartford Courant's coverage online and in print was excellent.
Last Tuesday, during the stand-off with Christopher Dorner, KTLA (Los Angeles), KSWB (San Diego), and KTXL (Sacramento) provided continuous extensive live coverage in their markets. KTLA's live signal was made available to our television stations and newspapers, many of which streamed it on their websites. News ratings jumped, and the coverage drew large numbers of viewers in key demos across multiple time periods throughout the day, especially at KTLA. As the story unfolded, our reporters Tweeted updates and made extensive use of social media. Traffic to the website of the Los Angeles Times more than doubled, to 13.5 million page views. Times' reporters made multiple appearances on air. The following day, along with its comprehensive editorial coverage of the Dorner story, the Times featured a KTLA frame-grab on its front page above the fold.
We have great people and we provide great journalism, content, and context. It’s also clear that readers, viewers, listeners and digital users turn to us when news happens, and they benefit from the resources and talent we devote to news coverage.
I’ve also been struck by the some of the innovative work going on around the company. The Hartford Courant, for example, is partnering with PBS’ Frontline for a two-part documentary and a series of stories about gun violence in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The Baltimore Sun took advantage of the Ravens’ run to the Super Bowl, offering compelling editorial coverage, special sections and homepage takeovers for advertisers, and commemorative merchandise like T-shirts, front-page reprints, and a highlight book for fans.
There is a lot to be proud of across this company; I’m learning that with each visit I make to one of our business units. Yesterday, I was at the Baltimore Sun, where I met with Tim Ryan and his team, and held an employee town hall. Next Monday I’ll be at WPHL in Philadelphia.
Finally, in the next several days we’ll announce a new employee recognition program, designed to reward people for outstanding work, innovation and dedication.
As I said, great things are going on at Tribune.