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What’s the Real Trouble at Tribune? November 10, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.

Pretty juicy story on Tribune-Times Mirror clashes on Page One of the Journal. And the headline’s correct — the different styles of paper exacerbated the problems. They don’t seem to me to be the core of the issue, though. As the story points out:

    Times Mirror was notoriously poorly managed, and Tribune, known for its disciplined management, had been eyeing the property for years.

But yeah, the LA Times’ circulation has plummeted since Tribune took over. But does a news conglomerate really need redundant national and international bureaus? Quality vs. efficiency debates aside, Times Mirror, if not the LA Times per se, needs to figure out how to cover Los Angeles. And, of course, all this is in the middle of the need for fundamentally re-thinking the (local) news — not newspaper — business.

But whenever you see “culture clash” in a headline or muttered as a management excuse, remember:

– There seem to be far fewer successful mergers than successful acquisitions
– “Culture clash” is a code word for “turf wars”
– Fast, decisive action on assigning turf and responsibilities alleviates a lot of pain later

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