THE ZELL SELL:
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A few months into the job as chairman and chief executive officer of the Tribune Co., Sam Zell is trying his hand at calming the frayed nerves of his thousands of employees. He has authorized wacky — some might argue oddly sophomoric — press releases with headlines such as “Surely you can’t be serious? Marc Chase — president of Tribune Interactive!” and set up an e-mail account for employees to directly get in touch with him (so far, 3,000 have sent e-mails to the boss and Zell said he has replied to all of them). “People want this to work,” he said. “These people care and have a vested interest.” Zell also set up an online idea bank for employees, which has received more than 2,000, providing insight to improve the company. His comments came during a conference call yesterday on the state of the company.
Zell acknowledged that the future will involve divestitures. Offer books will be ready in the next two weeks for the Chicago Cubs, and a transaction could take place before yearend. He also talked about Newsday, acknowledging that there are interested buyers but he hasn’t made a decision yet. In line with the rest of the industry, Zell said that print advertising revenue is down this year, due in part to a continued decline in classified ads. — A.W.