Abrams Update: More Controversy In The Face of Crisis

We promised to keep you posted on the changes that Lee Abrams is trying to implement across the Tribune Company’s media properties.

This weekend, the Internet is buzzing, mostly with negativity, over a brainstorming memo that Abrams sent out earlier this week.  Some of the ideas are certainly “off the wall” and likely wouldn’t play well with either news-elites or potential customers.  But, hopefully, Tribune staffers are paying attention to the underlying imperatives.

Local TV news operations, which used to be the definition of cash cows, now face free-falling revenues.  Viewership has been eroding for a decade.  The model of “news, weather and sports with a man and a woman anchor at 5, 6 and 11” was developed in a much different era of television, of business and in America.  And anyone paying any attention knows what is happening to newspapers.

Several years ago, Ford Motor Company executive Mark Fields warned his company by saying “change or die.”  Now, look where the auto industry stands today.  It’s time for the media business to look at Abrams, and others, and stop focusing on the brainstorming ideas (or the penmanship of the messenger) and start focusing on the message. Maybe “change or die” is a mantra worth adopting for more than just autos.