News Update: After several days of speculation, Tribune Co. CEO Randy Michaels has resigned, a casualty of his own unorthodox management style, which ultimately alienated employees, management and creditors during a critical period as the company struggles to exit bankruptcy. The media company’s properties include the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and 23 major-market television stations.
The final chapter in Michaels reign began with a feature article in The New York Times on October 5, which detailed the frat house-like behavior senior management adopted since he was promoted to CEO in December of 2009. Things began to unravel quickly, amidst reports of executives’ constant use sexual innuendo, profanity, and bizarre after work excursions. In one early account, while having a drink with senior executives at the Chicago InterContinental Hotel, CEO Michaels offered the waitress $100 to see her breasts.
Once ensconced in power, Michaels proceeded to hire many of his cronies that he worked with during his radio days, even though a number of them had no experience in publishing. One of those recruits, Lee Abrams, the company’s chief innovation officer, was fired last week after circulating an email containing a link to a web video called “Sluts”, which contained female nudity. In defending his actions, Abrams blamed the company’s newsroom employees for distrusting outsiders, presumably he and Michaels.
A four person council will run the company as it moves forward, and works on an exit plan from bankruptcy. At that point, the creditors that own the company’s senior debt will elect a new board of directors who will be responsible for selecting a new CEO.