Hiller's take on Sam Zell

The new boss of the LAT - and of all Tribune for that matter - was at the paper last week, and he apparently had a bunch to say about the future, much of it positive. Publisher David Hiller summarizes the off the record session in a memo to staff. Among Hiller's scribbles:

--High energy straight-talking business owner looking for same in us

--Committed and confident in the deal getting done (don’t focus too much on current stock price)

--He doesn’t associate with mediocrity, so wants to “go for greatness”

--Believes Los Angeles Times is very important and “has a great future”

--“I promise you I did not come here to be captain of the Titanic”

--“My head and neck only look forward;” “I don’t really give a [ ] about the past”

--So don’t talk about the excuses of the past (Chandlers, LA v. Chicago, etc.)

--Our success is about “relevance and revenue and respect”

--Focus, focus on our customers; find out what they want; readers are customers not some theoretical thing

--Without revenue we can’t print the paper

--Online is growing well – but latimes.com can be great only because the LA Times is great and stays relevant

--Need more sense of urgency to change and get things done; “Not next week – now”

--He’s a contrarian – looks to find value by looking at things differently

--Believes in giving people authority and local decision-making, and then holding them accountable

-“I can’t do it” has to be eliminated from our vocabulary

--The future is up to us; Sam wants our plans not his plans; wants open, candor from us (doesn’t kill the messenger)

Others who heard Zell said he was also critical of the paper, saying that it was basically soft (not a description you want to be getting from this guy).

Full memo on the jump

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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