Tribune exec’s memo to staff over reorg

To try and clear up any confusion over what is happening with the company’s reorganization Randy Michaels sent out the following memo to the staff.

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From: Tribune Communications
Sent: Thursday, August 20, 2009 2:05 PM
Subject: RE: Message from Randy Michaels/The Restructuring Process

I’m sure you’ve seen the recent media speculation about the progress of our restructuring process. Some secondary publications have printed inaccurate stories about what is happening or is likely to happen, and some of those reports have been picked up by the trade press.

Here is what is going on: We are having good discussions with our creditor groups and making progress on a plan for emerging from bankruptcy. It is a slow process because we and they are trying to be very deliberate along the way.

We’re guided by a few fundamental principles during the negotiations:

* We believe there is tremendous value in our current asset mix. By operating media businesses online, over the airwaves and in print, we can maximize the use of our content across all platforms, making it available to consumers and advertisers whenever and wherever they want it. That doesn’t mean we wont do deals where it makes sense (like monetizing the Cubs), but we believe the whole of Tribune is greater than its sum of parts.

* We are working to emerge from bankruptcy with a level of debt that gives us flexibility to operate our businesses and to take advantage of opportunities going forward. We want to grow our business, and we need liquidity to do that.

* We are working to ensure that we can provide market-level competitive wages and benefits for employees.

* Our entire management team is engaged and involved in executing on the vision for the company. Weve made tremendous progress in the last 18 months. We’re innovating like never before. There is a lot more to do, but we are way ahead of our competitors, who haven’t acted as aggressively.

In many respects, we’re finding that our creditor groups agree with these principles, but of course, there are a lot of details to be worked out. We hope to have a restructuring plan fully fleshed out in the fall.

Our business units, including all of our newspapers, are profitable. It would be absurd to think that this company will be “liquidated”. While the ownership structure of the company is likely to change, current operating management is committed, and intends to remain in place during and after the restructuring.

Don’t let the noise get too distracting. Many other media companies are about to go through their own process, and not all will have the positive outcome we expect. By being in and out early, we will have the opportunity to grow our company in size and value.

Finally, as I have said before, thank you for all your efforts. Our employees are easily our most valuable assets. You make this place go. Together, we are creating a company worthy of the people working here and the jobs they do day-in and day-out.

Randy

Source: Poynter Online/ Jim Romenesko