One way to look at this is that it will take four people to do the work now being done by one CEO at Tribune Company. Although he wasn’t ousted at Tuesday’s board meeting, the flagship Chicago Tribune reports that Tribune Company CEO Randy Michaels is expected to resign by the end of this week.
Rather than hire a new CEO for Tribune Company, which is due to get a new board and possibly new management when it emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, the report says Michaels will be replaced by a four-member office of the president that the sources said would comprise Eddy Hartenstein, president and publisher of the Los Angeles Times; Tony Hunter, president and publisher of the Chicago Tribune Media Group; Nils Larsen, Tribune Co.’s chief investment officer; and Don Liebentritt, chief restructuring officer.
Michaels has ruffled many feathers at Tribune Company since he joined the company in 2007, first as Executive Vice President and CEO of Tribune’s broadcasting and interactive businesses, and six of the company’s mid-market newspapers. He moved up to COO with responsibility for the newspapers as well and then was named CEO in December 2009 as Sam Zell relinquished his day-to-day role to be only Chairman of the board.
The embattled CEO survived the Tuesday board meeting, when both the New York Times and Chicago Tribune had incorrectly predicted his resignation. But Michaels had clearly been wounded by the recent NY Times piece that skewered his administration of the rival media company and the subsequent racy email that led to the resignation of Tribune Chief Innovation Officer Lee Abrams.
RBR-TVBR observation: If true, Tribune Company employees had better hope that the exit from Chapter 11 is on a fast-track and the new board hires a permanent CEO to lead the company ASAP. A “CEO-by-committee” approach is guaranteed to bring at best stagnation and at worst disaster.